LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co has asked theater operators to agree to a shorter time between the debut of its new “Alice In Wonderland” film and its DVD release, as it looks for new ways to ignite home video sales.
Bob Chapek, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement the company remains “committed to theatrical windows, with the need for exceptions to accommodate a shortened period on a case-by-case basis, such as with Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.'”
“We feel that it’s important for us to maintain a healthy business on the exhibition side and a healthy business on the home video side,” Chapek said. “We think this is in the best interest of theater owners, because a healthy movie business is good for them and allows us to invest in high quality, innovative content.”
Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts and investors on a conference call the company had already been discussing release windows on movies with theater owners.
The ‘window’ is the time between when a movie ends its run in theaters and begins its release on DVD, television or elsewhere. Studios want to shorten the time to recoup their investment more quickly, while theater owners worry about weakening ticket sales if audiences simply wait for the DVD.
“Alice” comes out on March 5, which means that, under the typical 17-week window, the release to the home video marketplace would take place in the middle of the summer, which is traditionally a slow period for DVD sales.
Iger told CNBC on Wednesday that Disney has proposed a shortening of the window for “Alice” so it can put the video out roughly 13 weeks after the movie is released.
“That gives us the ability to put the video out before the doldrums of the summer and to put it out when the movie is very fresh in consumers’ minds,'” he told CNBC.
A source close to the company said the aim is to keep the movie industry healthy by enabling companies such as Disney to reap better returns on their film investments in an ever competitive marketplace.
The source said the key factor was that Disney was looking for exceptions and not an overall change in policy.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Andre Grenon