Universal Halts VOD Plan for TOWER HEIST

     October 12, 2011


Last week, we reported that Universal Pictures had made the controversial decision to release Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist on Video on Demand only three weeks after the film had hit theaters.  The test case would only be implemented for Comcast digital subscribers in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon, but theater owners finally drew a line in the sand against the studios’ continuing encroachment into the theatrical exhibition business.  Major theater chain Cinemark threatened to ban the movie from its theaters and smaller theater chains refused to screen the innocuous-but-most-likely-lucrative comedy.  In response, Universal has relented and “continues to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive and we look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future.”

Or to read it another way, “You’ve won this round theatres but we’ll be baaaaaaack!” (and then Universal’s hot air balloon flies away).  Tower Heist opens in theaters on November 4th.

  • Markus

    I’m starting to wonder if VOD is the new Napster. Not that VOD is free and full of piracy, but rather all films are not created equal, and a service that would let people see a film at home for a cost comparable to one or two movie tickets (or in this case, 6) will affect one movie very differently than another movie.

    With a large budget and known cast, Tower Heist should make at least some money in theaters (even if I think it looks awful.) Meaning, theaters that would likely screen it could lose potential business.

    On the other hand, I’d love for a chance to see something like Another Earth or Melancholia (which I may watch VOD tonight) since there’s less of a chance they’ll ever be shown at the 7-screen theater I frequent.

    In that case, the film still gets some sales from VOD, and theaters are free to keep another screen free for Twilight: Morning Delight Part 3 or whatever films is expected to make 9 times what it deserves to that month.

    Theaters make some money, I get to see Brit Marling’s film. Everyone wins. The VOD experiment should kick off with a critically acclaimed film that won’t make a lot in theaters if they want to show that it can work.