DVD release moved to 14 weeks

ROME — Italian exhibitors have backed down in their standoff with Disney over the release of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

The country’s exhibitors’ association ANEC announced Thursday that following “a constructive confrontation” Italo hardtop circuits will screen “Alice,” despite Disney’s shortened DVD window. That window has however been extended to slightly longer than Disney’s originally announced 12 week gap.

“Every battle must be fought for the good of the film market as a whole, without putting up barriers where you can reach agreements that are convenient for the industry as a whole,” ANEC topper Paolo Protti said in a statement.

Protti also underlined that, as part of its negotiations, Disney has agreed to release three blockbusters — “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “Toy Story 3″ and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” this summer in Italy when the box office drop often causes key titles to be held for release by the majors until the fall, creating a year-round glut and a major impediment to market growth. “Apprentice” will be going out in Italy on Aug. 20, the height of the country’s customary holiday break, and an unprecedented release date for a high-profile pic in Italy.

The country’s two main circuits, The Space and Odeon-owned UCI — which had both threatened a boycott — have now both confirmed they will be playing “Alice,” which will bow in Italy on March 3.

As to the window issue, The Space topper Giuseppe Corrado told local trade publication Box Office that Disney has provided assurances that “Alice” will not be out on DVD in Italy prior to the first week in June, which is close to a 14-week window. The standard window in Italy is 15 weeks.

But ANEC warned that its goal remains to avoid “unilateral” decisions by distributors on this delicate issue.

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