To me “Alice in Wonderland” is one of the greatest meta-stories there is around. Is see it as methaphorically for the work I do, helping media companies going through the “rabbit hole”. How symbolically that it is this story that today illustrates how Disney is trying to get cinema’s to enter into the ‘rabbit hole’. It is imminent for a while now, that the current business model of subsequent release windows for films (and tv series for that matter) is collapsing. With the “battle for Alice” the fight is coming into the open. While cinema’s are hanging on to their “last straws” to keep their windows as long as possible, publishers want to adjust to the changing market conditions.
So what is happening?
The development of the realtime web is putting ever more pressure on the release dates of properties. After airing any new film or series, within the hour you are able to get it from a torrent. This has resulted in the habit of people to not wait untill they are “officialy” able to see the film in their region, but instead going for instant satisfaction and grabbing the material.
So, the publishers are seeing their windows collapsing, especially a (still) profitable DVD window. But facing reality means there is actually only one first window, and that is a global release moment. Instead of getting into a fight with the publishers, agile young film makers are looking for smart new release models; using social media to gather public and fans and planning exclusive screenings in film art houses as a festival tour of films. They understand that the social experience of watching a movie with friends is what they need to support (in their own interests)
Now curiously enough there is an advantage to seeing Alice in the cinema. As this makes it possible to engage in the 3D experience of the film, where as a DVD will not grant you that experience in your home (…yet, for 3D television is in fast development as well).
So cinema’s seem to feel robbed of their last chance to attract audiences on the bases of a superior film experience. This is a fight that was bound to happen and Disney (as one of the big publishers) has chosen to take the lead..