Thursday, 25 February 2010

Alice fair in love and war

Is it just me, or have you noticed an alarming amount of news coverage concerning the 'Alice in Wonderland' cinema debacle? For the last week or so, every major news broadcast has been scrutinising the significance of the 'Odeon boycott' and its impact on the likely success of the new Tim Burton movie.

Things all kicked off when Disney decided to reduce the theatrical release window for the movie, from 17 weeks to just 12. Given the fact that most films make about 90% of their revenue in the first month of release, it's hardly surprising that the House of Mouse can't wait to get Alice back out there on the shiny disc format.

But according to the news reports, Europe's leading cinema chains objected to the shortened release schedule and refused to carry the movie.

Thankfully, for fans of sleepy rodents and tardy rabbits, the dispute has finally been settled, and Disney's 3D extravaganza will be shown on the big screen after all. That means that families can spend their Easter break wearing Ronnie Barker specs and ducking in their seats every time Helena Bonham-Carter's Red Queen loses her rag.

The great news broke just in time for the film's royal premiere in London, and all the key news programmes dutifully reported the story, along with plenty of footage of the Alice and pals enjoying a predictably Burtonesque adventure.

There was even an official statement, released by the Odeon chain, that said "Odeon is pleased to announce that it will now be showing Alice in Wonderland beginning March 5 in its cinemas in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. As a result of this agreement, Odeon is pleased to confirm that it will be able to continue with its plans for significant investment in new cinemas, in digital technology in 3D capability and the other exciting developments designed for the increased enjoyment of all its customers."

Now, forgive me for my cynicism, but couldn't this whole story just be a really smart PR campaign designed to maximise free publicity for the movie? Don't forget that TV ad revenues continue to fall as viewers find all kinds of ways to avoid the commercial breaks, meaning that would-be advertisers need to find more innovative ways of getting their messages out. And film studios are no different.

As far as this story's concerned, everybody wins. The news shows get a big entertainment story that will engage far more viewers than the continuing saga of Bully-Boy Brown, Disney gets footage of its new movie on every prime-time news broadcast, and cinema chains like Odeon get to make big statements about their investment plans and 3D capability. To cap it all off, audiences are now fully aware that they have a limited opportunity to see Johnny Depp playing Bonnie Langford on crack in their local fleapit.

Tea party anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Could not have put it better myself...and if you look closely you will see Liquorice Allsorts have managed to get prime advertising space on Johnny Depp's Bow tie. Very clever these advertising lot...very...very...clever.