Given Tim Burton’s post-millennial decline and the seemingly designed-to-be-unwatchable Super Bowl spot for “Alice in Wonderland,” it’s clear the perfect storm of controversy over how the release will be of greater consequence than the film itself. With not enough 3D screens to go around and a bottleneck coming up towards the end of March, Hollywood’s financial wonderboy is about to be severely tested.
On one hand, Disney’s pushing 3D hard == “Alice” is meant to be the quadrant-busting 3D spectacle of spring, uniting families, fantasy geeks and technological nerds eager for their next post-“Avatar” fix. On the other hand, no one could ever claim that “Alice” is as spectacle-exclusive as “Avatar,” a movie whose emphasis on being groundbreaking isn’t replicable.
Jack Malvern in the Times offers one of the least convincing reasons for collapsing the theater-to-DVD window — that the way to combat falling DVD sales is to release the DVD while the publicity campaign is still fresh in people’s minds.The article goes on to quote what Disney allegedly told exhibitors in every country to explain their desire to close the gap — World Cup in the UK, downturn of DVD sales during early march in the US, Father’s Day (!) in Canada. Clearly, someone is rationalizing as fast as possible.
Still, at a time when the industry is collectively holding its breath and hoping the 3D revenue bump is the answer to shifting business modals — taking it seriously this time, not with shoddy glasses and gimmicks — it seems counterproductive to simultaneously devalue the very thing that’s being promoted. DVD or 3D? No one knows, but wouldn’t it make more sense to collapse the window on non-event, non-3D movies while letting the big spectacles play as long and proftiably as possible, creating two tiers of priority? It would open the field back up for mid-budget movies while letting tentpoles dominate theaters, a sort of adoption of how IMAX movies play forever and ever, separating the blockbuster from modest.
[Photos: “Alice in Wonderland,” Disney, 2010; “Clash of the Titans,” Warner Bros, 2010]