I’m told that certain British exhibitors and theatre managers who’ve seen Tim Burton‘s Alice In Wonderland feel it’s “a true stinker of a movie…an unmitigated disaster,” as one correspondent puts it. “It’s no shock that Disney want to release this on DVD as soon as possible. Not sure what can save this though the promotion so far might guarantee it a great opening before poisonous word of mouth kills it.”

To which I replied, “Wait…a stinker? Burton might be off his game, but I can’t believe it’s a disaster…c’mon. Burton is no chump, he knows what he’s doing.”

To which the exhibitor replied, “Saw a screening last week, Jeff. Will let you wait to judge it but the movie is a mess. No real plot to speak of and some terrible acting from the likes of Crispin Clover. Even some of the CGI is messy. Cinemas not wanting to show this due to early DVD terms from Disney might not [realize] how lucky they are long-term. There was also a screening last week for critics and that didn’t go well either.”

A Manhattan-based critic friend adds the following: “Alice sucks. Visually amazing [with] many familiar characters but none of the story from the books. No wit, no tension — an action-fantasy, if you can believe that, minus comedy.”

Vulture reported two days ago that AMC, America’s second-largest theater chain, “is threatening to boycott Alice in Wonderland because of Disney’s plan to shorten the film’s theatrical run. Disney wants to keep Alice in theaters for twelve weeks rather than seventeen in order to capitalize on the DVD appeal of this family-friendly movie about pigs that serve as footrests.

“An AMC boycott would seriously harm the box-office returns for Alice, which would lose revenue from the company’s more than 4,500 screens worldwide. And because of that, AMC and Disney are expected to work something out before the movie’s March 5 release.”

London Update: “I see there are already doubters accusing me of lying,” the exhibitor says. “Just wait until you see the movie, Jeff. I was hoping that this would be great as Burton is perfectly capable but alas, this is an expensive disaster. Critics who have seen it are under embargo at the moment. Reviews are going to be interesting.”

Further Update: BBC News is reporting that Alice in Wonderland “will not be screened at Odeon cinemas in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy, the cinema chain says. The move is in response to the Disney studio’s plan to reduce the period in which it can be shown only in cinemas from the standard 17 weeks. The plan would allow Disney to release the film on DVD at the end of May.

“Odeon said this would ‘set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard.'”