Some of the UK's biggest exhibitors are pulling Fox's Night At The Museum this weekend in a row over a shortened 13-week window between theatrical and DVD release.

Odeon and Vue cinemas are amongst those taking action - though none of the chains involved was making a statement tonight.

It follows a similar row in Germany last week where the leading cinema chains forced Fox into concessions over the DVD release for Eragon after pulling Night At The Museum and John Tucker Must Die and threatening the opening of Rocky Balboa.

But Fox says the UK action is entirely unnecessary. 'I feel this is a real tempest in a teacup in terms of exhibitor-distributor relations,' Christian Grass, Fox's executive vice-president EMEA told ScreenDaily last night.

'But the real loser is the consumer,' he said. 'The exhibitors are removing the customer choice to see a crowd-pleasing movie on the big screen.'

Grass said Fox had a proven track record in supporting strong release windows.

But there had to be some flexibility, he suggested. 'This is a movie that played well during the holiday period and we think it only fair to be able to release the DVD at Easter.'

Release windows are becoming an increasingly hot issue in Europe, where exhibitors have been exercising their collective muscle by joint action against individual distributors.

In November, Italian Multiplex Association ANEM removed all copies of Universal's Miami Vice from Italian theatres in a row over the planned DVD window of two months.

Universal gave in to theuproar and pushed the December release back to January.

Italian distributorassociation ANICA, exhibitor body ANEC and ANEM eventuallyagreed to a 15-week window between a film's theatrical and release.

The four-month window appears to be the line in the sand for cinema owners across Europe.

Most distributors say they are supportive of the release window but with the flexibility to sell at key times - in Italy, for example, the plan was to get the Miami Vice DVD on sale for Christmas.