Odeon U.K. in U-turn over 'Alice'

Agreement comes on day of Leicester Square world premiere

LONDON -- Odeon/UCI cinemas has agreed to an eleventh-hour deal with Disney to show "Alice in Wonderland" in the circuit's U.K. theaters.

The agreement follows a separate deal with U.K. exhib Vue, ending a controversy that had threatened to squeeze Tim Burton's 3D pic out of the local theatrical market. The Odeon agreement was announced Thursday, as Disney prepared to stage the world premiere of "Alice" in front of Prince Charles at the circuit's flagship cinema on Leicester Square.

Odeon said it had reached "an enduring agreement ... encompassing all the different aspects of both companies' commercial relationship," but officials declined to elaborate. Though Disney still will shorten the film's theatrical run to slightly less than 12 weeks -- a move aimed at rushing "Alice" into DVD release before summer -- Odeon and Vue likely secured concessions on film-rental terms.

Odeon is Europe's biggest exhibition group and also will handle "Alice" in Ireland, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria. The motion-capture fantasy bows worldwide on March 5.

The controversy over the film's theatrical window had threatened to taint the premiere, as Burton reportedly threatened a no-show over how "Alice" had been drawn into the flap. He did attend the premiere Thursday.
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