Last night, Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, with it’s All-Star cast and Helena Bonham-Carter, opened in London’s Leicester Sq. Just hours before, Disney and Odeon came to an agreement to show the film in Odeon cinemas following an initial boycott by the latter.
The original furore was over Disney wishing to shorten the length of time between cinema release and DVD release from 17 weeks to 12 weeks, claiming that advertising campaign were fresher in consumer’s minds and thus would be able to sell more DVDs – the big money spinner for Disney. Interestingly, the announcement yesterday was did not mention anything regarding the DVD release.
This battleground is not a recent phenomenon. The same happened at Christmas as the cinemas threatened to pull the release of ‘A Christmas Carol’ when Disney wanted to bring forward the release date of ‘UP!’ on DVD. The cinemas relented that time around.
This disagreement aside, Disney’s point is valid in the CEC (current economic climate). A more competitive film market, combined with added pressure on marketing budgets means that they have to squeeze these films for all they’ve got. If this battle is not going to go away anytime soon, do marketers need to think differently? Is this a challenge to create longer lasting ‘branding’ of films rather than blitzes before opening weekend and the week prior to DVD release? After all, these major releases have all sorts of big-money merchandise spin-offs.
With the opening weekend and first week sales being so crucial to determining the success of the majority of films, this looks an unlikely approach. But for these major releases, there is scope for a different approach - aligning the theatrical release campaign with the DVD campaign.
This is not the last time we will see a stand-off between distributor and cinema chain. My guess is that the answer lies from within. Assuming a compromise can be made going forward, a new more integrated approach to film marketing is on the horizon.