Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, and More Sign up to Combat Premium VOD Service

     June 1, 2011


Chris Nolan and Jon Favreau add their voices to April’s open letter appeal by The National Association of Theater Owners protesting to DirecTV’s new Premium VOD service, Home Premiere. Home Premiere is a video-on-demand service backed by four major studios, Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., and Sony, which provides audiences with the opportunity to rent a new film two months after release, for the price of $29.95. According to THR, the Batman Begins and Iron Man directors are two of the latest signatories to oppose the service among a group of high profile talent including Quentin Tarantino, M. Night Shyamalan and David Dobkin, plus screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and former president of Warner Home Video, Jim Cardwell.

Hit the jump for more on this controversy.

movie-theater-01Home Premiere has already sparked considerable displeasure among cinema owners and directors alike, who claim that shortening the window between theatrical release and film rental/ VOD services from four months to two will detract from the “cinematic experience”, and who argue that their films were crafted to be shown on “the big screen”. With todays news, the full list of directors and producers opposed to the service grows ever longer. Currently signatories already include James Cameron, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, Michael Mann, and Gore Verbinski to mention just a few.

In addition to the letter of appeal, some cinemas reacted to the service by threatening to exclude or limit trailers and posters to films from Fox, Universal, Warner Bros. and Sony. THR reports that sources inside the four studios claim that relations between theaters and studios are beginning to repair, but slowly, and so far all sides are refusing to comment.

Honestly, I can’t see what the fuss is about. For a long time now the theatrical experience hasn’t been as peachy as exhibitors make out. For the price of $29.95, which isn’t exactly cheap, even factoring in more than one viewer per watch, punters can avoid what, frankly, has become the hassle of ‘the cinematic experience’: distractingly noisy audiences, lengthy ticket queues and untidy, rubbish strewn theatres to name but a few gripes.

Also, as indignant as they are about Home Premiere, this posse of heavyweight Hollywood filmmakers aren’t raising their voices in anger at how their films are being projected in cinemas. Why aren’t they fighting for theaters to hire competent projectionists? If they’re celebrating the “cinematic experience”, then why aren’t they chastising theaters for making that experience so terrible for consumers?

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  • junierizzle

    So far I’ve seen Hall Pass, Just Go With it and Diary of a Wimpy kid offered on this Home Premiere thing. I don’t think these titles are enticing people. $30 to see Hall Pass? NO thank you.

    I still think this won’t hurt BOx office numbers. These days most movies make most of their money in the first week or two.

    But the real test will be when titles like Transformers 3, Green Lantern, Kung-FU Panda, etc are available.

    • leviathanus

      maybe the reason the movie directors are rejecting VOD is because it will phase out theaters and therefore their connection to the audience. how will a director know if he failed or succeeded if he cant see the audience’s reaction?

      I’d like to have a directors opinion on this though to clarify the whole thing.

      • Alex–

        Read viewers opinions online? Something that incidentally both Nolan and Vaughn scoff at.

    • mtsaska

      The only problem I see with VOD is piracy. The users of torrent sites will get their hands on better quality films quicker. I definitely think this could seriously impact box office sales. Sure it may be 30 bucks a pop, but someone pays it and then distributes it to a thousand people. Do the math.

  • jake

    Anyone else wondering why M. Night Shyamalan signed the letter?

    • Eric

      I’m more surprised that someone asked him to.

  • Wolstenholme

    I don’t think anyone will really care if M. Night’s name is on this or not

  • Bob

    I think they should concentrate on making better movies than this

  • Nick

    I love going to theaters, always have and always will (except for if this 3D bs keeps happening). I’m not going to pay thirty bucks to watch something on demand, so these studios can go screw themselves.

  • danielplainview

    even Warner’s “poster boy” objects this idea. and i agree, the essence of going to movie theaters will be gone. i know movie buffs will always go to cinemas, but what about those normal moviegoer. those who watch summer blockbusters, they won’t come to theaters when they could watch it easily after two months. then the size of the audience decreases, and suddenly, people whom we share the experience gets to be fewer… the laughs on Inglourious Basterds won’t be as loud, the silence of a suspense won’t be as thrilling(because you know that the reason it is quite is because there is no audience, not because of the tension) and the opening of TDK and the ending of Inception on IMAX won’t have the loud gasp that it causes audiences

  • Tarek

    But who’s gonna rent a movie for 29$ ?

  • joe kerr

    i don´t know what the problem is, VoD its just another option. people still can download a whole movie from the net within days of its release anyway.

  • Keith Robin

    At least Chris Nolan is making the new Batman film using Imax cameras, as he did with the previous release. It will be very difficult to achieve the same experience at home no matter what the cost. Going to a theater, whether a classic Imax or a new digital Imax venue, is a must for The Dark Knight Rises.
    The hippocracy of this whole Premier VOD service is just another attempt by studios to make more money, as if re-releasing the dvd in newly upgrafed versions every six months, isn’t enough. How long are we going to succumb to their greed, avarice and total lack of concern for the average consumer?


    Darren Aronofsky or J.J. Abrams need to sign this list so that there can be a name that alphabetically precedes Michael Bay’s name. I mean, as long as Bay is the first name on this list, it hold no merit with anyone. Either way, movies will still continue to suck 90% of the time regardless of whether this VOD format exists or not. I’ll watch these people’s movies on my I-pod Nano. The smaller the screen, the less suckiness is visible.

    • leviathanus

      well someone finally found a use for the ipod nano video playback feature. play shitty movies and you might not notice just how shitty they are.

  • Trent smith

    I have no problem with this service. It would cost me that much to watch the film at the cinema. Plus, I don’t have the 4 foot kid kicking my seat, the guy who is on his phone throughout the movie, or the girl who has no clue what is going on and asks what it happening every five minutes. Hollywood should understand that it’s not what it use to be. The glamour of seeing a movie is gone. I would rather watch a movie on my 110 inch screen with real butter on my popcorn, than drive to the cinema and sit in an unfamiliar place.

    • Ben

      Damn right. The cinema will never be what it once was. I would far rather enjoy movies on my own massive TV with people I choose to have around, than have to suffer the company of people I don’t know in an environment that is increasingly unpleasant.

      @Mike – reclusion is another topic altogether, albeit very worthy of discussion. People are retreating to their own solitude because there are too many of us. There can be no sense of community or solidarity among strangers when the population is so high. As I said – very different topic.

      @Tarek – $29 is a lot, but between a group of friends it could work out more cost effective than transport to the cinema, the price of the ticket and then the outrageously expensive cinema food…

  • zeebs

    the reason the directors make the movie is so that they can be viewed in the theater. this early release of the movies on VOD is a dumb idea. I know i will never do it for 30 bucks. If you dont wanna wait in a line or noisy audiences, then don’t see it opening night. I would rather pay 8-12 bucks for a movie and see it when its first release.

  • Mike

    This service has its pros and cons. You may have to sit with less families who use the movie experience as a babysitter, it may be more cost effective for them to stay home against the theater prices. It may lead to more movies being produced for a better theater experience, and less recycled stories. However, culturally, we take a dive. You don’t get the same experience of a comedy without the audience laughing with you. You don’t get the same experience of a horror or thriller being forced to watch it in the dark rather than watching it from through your blanket with the lights on. This service is just catering to a society that is becoming reclusive at an alarming rate. Viewing the world through a screen in your personal sanctuary is not a memorable experience. VOD is just part of the dismal tide.

    • Michael

      You hit the nail on the head. The real issue is that when it goes right there is no experience like seeing a movie in theaters with a bunch of other people. For example one of my favorite movie moments was Brad Pitt’s death in Burn After Reading because the group shock of the entire audience was friggen hilarious

  • Erik

    Chris Nolan is the man. I’ll back whatever he’s backing. And this doesn’t affect me too much because I’d rather see the movies I want to see in the theaters. Home viewing/renting is for so-so movies. Nolan’s movies are made for the big screen. And for all the complaining about “annoying kids” at the movies, I can’t remember the last time had people like that in the theater. Maybe you’re just those people that get all butt-hurt about little stuff in life anyway.

  • Mike

    I’m an Assistant Director and member of the Director’s Guild of America. I love movies. And my lifelong passion to make films comes from my love of the “cinematic experience”. This VOD service is just the start of forever changing the landscape of how people view movies. At this rate, how many years until the movie theater becomes the next “Blockbuster Video”?! Not many of those around anymore. I, like many other people, make films to be seen in theaters. It’s where I loved to escape to as a young man when life got tough. For two hours I could put my own problems aside and enjoy the story that was unfolding on the giant screen in front of me. And yes, some theater patrons can be inconsiderate, but isn’t it better to mutually laugh, cry, be scared, with a large audience in a dark theater, than to just sit at home on your couch and view on your certainly smaller tv screen?
    And I haven’t even touched upon the piracy issues that come with putting a streaming film on the web…I thought the object was to fight piracy, not to contribute to the problem.
    Thanks for watching. Enjoy the movies. – Mike Tsucalas


      If you include your name we can then look you up in IMDB, see that you work on tons of crap, and then can ignore your views. Transformers 2, Iron Man 2, Skyline, 2012, G-Force and the classic The Hottie and the Nottie. You are the reason I don’t go to the movies anymore.

      Wait a minute. You helped make Southland Tales! You are not qualified to comment on anything.

      • fastcheapoutofcontrol

        Slomo, while I can’t say I’m a fan of most mass-culture films to begin with, Mr. Tsucalas has amassed a rather large career in an incredibly difficult industry. And judging by his post, he appears to be in it because he loves the magic of movie making. What is it you do for a living? Oh, right, you’re likely just contributing to the cinema world with your ticket purchases to JJ Abrams films. I forgot about that solid artistry of MI:III. Yawn.

        As a sidenote, Southland Tales was actually pretty good, you probably just “didn’t get it.” Mr. Tsucalas, thank you for putting your heart into what you do, no matter which genre you’re working in. It’s those with a truly passionate love of movies that may keep the cinemas open, and also perhaps keep encouraging people to shoot on film.

        ~Someone else on IMDB, but not for anything important :]

      • SLOMO MOFO

        In answer to your question, I work with filmmakers five days a week, as I am a Production Coordinator. I don’t work on sold out Hollywood crap, though. I work with documentary filmmakers and people who are making historical films or television programs. I’ve worked on the last few Michael Moore movies and Ken Burns documentaries. I recently provided some footage for a Scorsese doc. Working on a film about Hemingway with Clive Owen. So, yeah, I work in film, I just don’t brag about it and include my name and then Thank everyone reading my comment for watching movies as though I own Hollywood.

        P.S. Southland tales was hated by critics, it was booed at Cannes and had a record number of walkouts, and the studio was very unhappy with it, and they asked the director to cut the crap out of it. And it made very little money and only Donnie Darko fans like it. It is not that much different than Ishtar or Hudson Hawk. Anyway, back to work on a movie. Good luck out there.

    • tom

      Will ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ be as good as ‘Skyline’?

  • Mike

    It’s all due to the decline in the movie theater experience. The theaters have themselves to blame. They are a business and they need to work harder to get customers in the doors instead of solely relying on hope and movie advertising to make people come see a film.

  • Peter Kitts


    I’m going to call you out on your stupid and plain ‘ol shitty argument in your disagreement with the directors of this anti-VOD cause. “Distracting noisy audiences” and “lengthy ticket queues” are always going to be factors of going to the movies. They can be ugly, aggravating factors, but it’s what comes with the experience, and it’s what going to the movies has and always will be like, so long as humans congregate in a giant room to watch images on a big screen (a screen much bigger and more special than any TV, especially).

    If there are “distracting noisy audience” members, you do something about it. And “lengthy ticket queues” are a double-edged sword of the cinema experience, but there are other ways to defeat this anxiety. If a part of the theater is messy, choose to sit somewhere else, or alert the theater staff so they can catch up on doing their job.

    If you’re still stuck in complaining about the hassles of going to a g’darn moving picture show, I can happily educate you on the existence of movie ticketing websites, or just the concept of not seeing a movie during a theater’s busiest hours. Your argument might have a shred of credibility if it came from someone who hasn’t been to the movies more than a couple times in their entire life. I would hope that this isn’t the case for you.

    And of course directors care about projectionists, but their first focus concerns getting the actual movies into the actual theater, not primarily onto some fucking TV.



      You clearly need to go to Ben’s house while he’s sleeping, throw him into a gunnysack, and drag him kicking and screaming to the theater to force him to watch a movie on the big screen. That’ll show him… it’ll show him that you are completely unwilling to accept freedom of choice, and like so many people in America, you are secretly a Fascist.

      I love how people argue against me watching a movie at home if I want to. This is America people…if I want to watch a movie at home, naked, covered in Molasses while my pet Ferret licks the Molasses off my body I will, and there is nothing you can do about it as long as I do it in the privacy of my own home.

      Remember Freedom of Choice Folks. Now I have to go to the store and buy some Molasses. Peace.

      • fps.mikey

        Ok, go ahead and pay 29.95 to sit naked and watch a movie you fat slob.

      • John

        Well said, mikey

  • IllusionOfLife

    I think this proposed VOD service is terrible and I completely support anyone who is against it. Yes, standards in theaters have gone down as ticket prices go up, and yes it is frustrating, but there’s still no experience that matches seeing a good movie in the cinema. And I’m not sure about the rest, but I know that Chris Nolan is definitely trying to ensure that the experience in the theater lives up to his high standards.

    In an interview posted on this very site several months ago, someone from IMAX talked about how Nolan had taken extra care to ensure that The Dark Knight was being presented in the best possible manner in several different theaters around the country, and that Joseph Kosinski had done the same thing with TRON: Legacy. The problem is that there are just too damn many theaters for this to be an easy fix, but I agree, it’s something that needs to be addressed. In fact, even though the switch to digital theaters frustrates me to no end, I still respect the IMAX name, because I can rely on it to be a high quality experience with clear, bright projection, and a great sound system.

    My point is, yes, there are things that certainly need to change, but switching to this Home Premier system is not the proper response. Studios need to start working with theater owners to guarantee a high quality experience, not fighting against them with stupid VOD services and encouraging even more cost-cutting practices. Start with one chain of theaters and have a training program partnering with the theater chain and the film studios to make sure that the people responsible for presenting these movies have a clue about how to do it properly. I can almost guarantee that something like that would spark a movement and other theaters would need to either reach out to the studios for a similar partnership or train their people properly themselves in order to stay competitive.

  • John

    Who gives a F what these hacks think. 90% of the garbage they put out if unwatchable.

  • unknown

    I think this is a blessing in disguise. I could really care less about the 2 month thing or the absurd price ($30) to ‘rent’ a new movie. The reason that I call it a blessing is because this should hopefully make it more difficult for shitty movies to be made. All the Michael Bay clones and idiots who follow him who make purely CGI based movies will make 10-20% less money thanks to the new VOD service. All it takes to make a movie nowadays is $100 million worth of computer graphics and lackluster actors and actresses only hired to look pretty by standing next to a green wall for 3 months saying a few lines here and there when absolutely necessary. We now live in a retard generation spawned by transformers and avatar, not to mention harry potter. The same shit movies that get rated 6 or 7 on imdb would have been rated 4 or 5 10 years ago. there are probably only a dozen actually ‘good’ movies each year, that’s supposing you can separate them from the other drivel and shit.

  • fps.mikey

    Out of the nearly 130 million households in the US about 18 million are DirecTV subscribers. DirecTV costs around anywhere from $50-$75 a month, tack on a $30 movie, no thanks. I’d rather run my ass to the Dingleberry Dollar Saver Cinema or just wait until I can buy it on DVD, I’ve already waited 2 months for VOD, why not wait a bit more. If you want instant gratification, go rub one out.

  • CJ

    Personally I love going to the movies. Granted the priceses for everything is waaaaay to high anymore and there are a lot of assholes who are in the theater testing on their phones or doing so dumbass things that are annoying, but that just means you have to ignore it and watch the damn movie. Every movie I’ve seen in a theater has completely engrossed me, there would be times I forget I’m in a theater, even the ones that suck. So I personally am in support of the directors, if I were to see TDKR, when it comes out, in the theater it would be 100% different then if I were to watch it at home and not in the good way.

  • Alex–

    Immersive experience with other people from the general public? When did this nonsense happen. Those times are long gone. The audience is more of a hassle than an enhancer of the moviegoing experience. Sure I like getting out of the house, but seeing a film in the cinema has always been a poor social bonding experience. Watching the same film at home with friends or family is superior in many ways.

    VOD is the death sentence of the traditional theatre as we know them but the way it is right now it can’t survive. It needs to change and VOD will quicken that change.

    I think alot of what these director and alot of hollywood has forgotten is that the cinema experience is not about big ass explosions and cool CGI but about films you actually care about , that make you think and foster discussion. That has been something that has been missing for a LOOONG time. The Coen brothers are the only ones keeping the cinema experience alive, not Vaughn or Nolan.

  • Jay

    $30 to rent a movie for two months? Is this not the most shocking thing any one? For $30 you can go buy it. To me this is alluding that is means they will be skyrocketing DVD costs soon if $30 is to somehow be appealing.