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Cinemark May Not Play 'Tower Heist' Over Universal's Early VOD Plan

by
October 6, 2011
Source: Deadline

Tower Heist / Cinemark

Anyone surprised? I'm not. Just a few days ago, Universal announced a radical plan to release Brett Ratner's ensemble comedy Tower Heist (watch the new trailer from today) on Video OnDemand only just three weeks after it's released in theaters. While the $59.99 price to watch it that early seems obnoxiously high (and who would even want to pay that much anyway?), the plan has already started to backfire, as expected, and movie theaters are quite angry about this decision. Deadline has confirmed that Cinemark, the third's largest movie theater chain along with AMC & Regal, has "threatened" to boycott the movie because of this.

Details on this early Video OnDemand "experiment" are still sparse, at least in the public, but it was only supposed to happen in two cities - Portland and Atlanta. Odd choices, but this is obviously why Universal chose these two, since there wouldn't be too much of an uproar in those markets. That said, it's obvious the movie theater chains feel threatened, since release time between a theatrical release and DVD or VOD is usually up to 8 to 10 weeks, and now they're trying to shorten it down to just 3, which no movie theater chain will accept for a major feature starring the likes of Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick.

They say: "If Universal Pictures moves forward with its Tower Heist premium video-on-demand offering, as announced, Cinemark has determined, in its best business interests, that it will decline to exhibit this film in its theatres." This is much worse for Universal because they're threatening to pull it from all of its theaters, not just in the two markets that this VOD experiment is happening. It's not surprising that they're making this threat, but it is surprising it came out in the public, which means the two couldn't work things out internally and had to rile up the media and make a public threat to show them just how serious they are.

Some are saying that there is a war brewing between movie studios and movie theaters, and I'm inclined to believe it. With Sony's changes over 3D glasses costs, and now this change and threat in return, it's obvious these two groups are having troubles working together. I'd honestly like to see some radical changes in the system, but it's hard to speak from the outside without looking at all the numbers themselves. That said, maybe it's better off that Tower Heist will be in less theaters, considering it is a Brett Ratner movie. At the same time, who was even thinking of paying $60 to rent this anyway? We'll be watching closely for updates.

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  • Anonymous
    So we get to choose between two evils eh? hmmm .... 
  • ttmb
    I'll side with the theaters on this one, and survive not seeing this movie at all....
  • Christophereo
    $60 dollars to rent on VOD? Around $10 dollars to see it at a movie theater? Pass
    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7L74MLUKYF52L7YQI3FOWRBNNQ MarcA
      But then you can gather like 10-20 friends and family to gather in your living room and ask everyone to chip in :)
      • Anonymous
        or wait an additional 6-8 weeks from there and do the same thing for $1 from redbox...
  • David Banner
    Hehe, looks like they were biting themselves in the tail :) A thought just occurred to me, why don't movie studios own their own movie theatres?
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      It was determined years ago, back in the Hollywood 40s/50s I think, that it would be considered a monopoly (or controlling the market) for any studio to own a theater. So it was outlawed and no studios are allowed to anymore. It would be like Apple buying AT&T and making their own iNetwork (or the NFL owning stadiums), it would be a monopoly, wouldn't be allowed by the government.
      • lando
        yes! united states vs paramount 1948.. I save my trips to the theaters to see something I really really want, otherwise its video on demand at this point. I enjoy the way they have it in the orlando florida theme park area where most hotels have currently running movies on demand in the rooms and at around $10!!! cheaper than IFC "before theaters"  on demand...(and typically better)
  • BATMAN
    $60...are they fuckin serious? Wow. Nobody in their right mind would pay that much to rent a damn movie.
    • Anonymous
      Unless it's a family or a group of friends... it may be cheaper. Try to think outside of your batcave box.
      • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
        That's actually a good point... Honestly, while I'm sure this isn't fully legal, why doesn't some guy with a big screen TV and lots of couch space start selling his own tickets via a Facebook event and just host his own "screening"? Or just rent out some rec room, bring over a TV, and everyone nearby can watch it. This is exactly why movie theaters don't like this idea. :)
        • Anonymous
          IMO 3 wks for a home launch would be a brilliant idea for families, dates & what not if they didnt release DVD's around 10 wks after the theatrical release.  It's engrained in my mind that if I miss a summer movie, that I can buy/rent it by Thanksgiving for the holiday season. ;)
        • Anonymous
          Completely agreed, said the same thing on the article a few days ago.  I would hope families take this option, it will save the actual moviegoers from dealing with kids at the theaters too. 
  • Anonymous
    Hey it can't be more disappointing than the 60 bucks some of us shelled out for the Mayweather debacle... err scam... err fight.
    • JT
      I enjoyed that fight quite a bit. A bit of scandal was needed to shake the world of boxing up a bit.
  • vegasdanny
    Its actually not a bad idea in theory. It may not work for a bland run of the mill release like Tower Heist but imagine being able to order The Dark Knight Rises a couple of weeks after being in theaters. Most households have large High Def Televisions now including surround sound so the picture quality is actually better than seeing a movie on the big screen. So you would get a few friends over, you get your beers and snacks (at half the price of the concessions at your local theater) and you all chip in a few bucks and you order the movie at home and make a night of it. I think a fair price would be the same as a pay per view event. I think in years to come On Demand will be far more important due to consumers needs for immediate product. 
  • Fenris
    This is a betrayal towards the cinema houses........ The very places that gave movies an audience.. the same thing is happening in another medium.. Comic books with the direct to digital releases happening the same time as the book is released thus killing the comic book stores.. I hope that all cinema houses get behind this and show solidarity to any studio doing this ...  They bitch about piracy killing the cinema's and then do the same thing !!

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