U.K. exhibitor reaches deal with Disney over 'Alice in Wonderland'
Walt Disney Pictures, whose decision to advance the date for the DVD release of its upcoming movie "Alice in Wonderland" has created an uproar with European theater operators, made peace with one major U.K. exhibitor.
Cineworld announced Thursday that it had agreed to show Tim Burton's 3-D adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll tale starring Johnny Depp on more than 150 screens when it debuts March 5.
European theater operators are worried that an early release of the DVD will undercut ticket sales. Two other leading exhibitors in the U.K., Odeon Cinemas and Vue Entertainment Ltd., have threatened to boycott the film, as have a majority of Dutch cinema operators.
But Cineworld Chief Executive Steve Wiener said his chain had reached a "satisfactory compromise" on the matter. "As leaders in 3D we do not want the public to miss out on such a visual spectacle. As the success of 'Avatar' has shown, there is currently a huge appetite for the 3-D experience."
Disney distribution chief Bob Chapek traveled to London for talks with exhibitors in an attempt to soften the backlash. Although progress has been made with Vue, talks have stalled with Odeon, said people familiar with the matter.
"As a result of Disney's insistence on reducing at short notice the theatrical window from 17 weeks to 12 weeks on a major 3-D title, regrettably with limited availability of 3-D screens, we have been left with no viable means of scheduling and promoting 'Alice in Wonderland,' " Odeon said in a statement.A Disney spokesman declined to comment.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.