According to a report in The Guardian, Disney were attempting to pull a fast one on cinema distributors in the UK by making Up available to buy on DVD in time for Christmas, even though the film was only released in the UK on October 9th.
I can't believe that Disney thought they were going to get away with this. I know Up isn't in the UK Box Office Top 10 at the moment, but it is still on general release. Disney were hoping to collapse the traditional four month window between cinema and DVD release and make a mint over the Christmas holidays. Cinema owners rightfully drew a line in the sand and threatened to kill A Christmas Carol which is having a surprisingly long run in the UK and just returned to the top of the charts last weekend.
I know the movie business is in a lot of flux right now, and piracy is a legitimate if overstated concern, but collapsing the window between theatrical and home distribution is not something that one studio is going to be able to unilaterally do. Cinema chains have absolutely no incentive to cooperate in what could be the death of their business without significant changes in how theatrical revenues are distributed. I am sure that everybody is looking at what happened to the music industry and is quietly shitting themselves, but music and film are very different disciplines and are consumed in very different ways.
I would argue that music is, in essence, a private act of consumption, while movies, by their evolution in theatrical distribution, are a much more communal event. I know this wasn't always the case with music (you had to listen to music being performed live up until fairly recently) but movies have always been about the cinematic experience. That's not going to change in the near future.
If Disney really wanted to release Up in time for Christmas, then it may have been an idea to not delay the release of the film 5 months. Pixar is about as pre-sold a property as you are likely to get and I don't think it would have risked much to theatrical revenues to have released in day and date with the States back in May. Then Up could have hit the market at the perfect time to become the stocking filler of choice for nasty little moppets everywhere (not to mention anybody who values wondrous storytelling).
The Guardian mentions that it some studio executives see an inevitable point some time in the near future when a film will get released simultaneously on all platforms (DVD, cinema, TV) because of the inevitable advance in digital technology. I'm sure I'll eat these words at some point, but I really can't see this happening. There seems to be too much money to lose for a whole lot of people for this to happen with major films. However, I do there is a market for this with smaller indies (and I think it has already happened in the States with films like In the Loop) who can parlay the initial burst of media attention on cinema release into a broader and more profitable initial release strategy.