More Theaters Threaten ‘Heist’ Boycott11 Oct, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy action comedy “Tower Heist” couldn’t buy the kind of publicity it’s getting in tug-of-war between Universal Pictures and theater operators
Los Angeles-based Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres and Emagine Theatres of Detroit have vowed not to screen Universal Pictures’ action comedy Tower Heist should the studio follow through with plans to release the movie into the premium video-on-demand window only three weeks after its Nov. 4 theatrical launch.
Universal recently said it would make the movie available to about 500,000 Comcast cable households in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta for $59.99 as part of test of premium VOD.
Cinemark USA Inc., the third largest theater chain in the country immediately said it would not screen the movie in any of its 3,800 screens if Universal released the title in the premium VOD window.
Heretofore, studios have offered select titles in the premium VOD window four to eight weeks after their theatrical releases on satellite operator DirecTV for $29.99. Theater operators feel premium VOD encroaches upon the theatrical window.
Studios increasingly feel a typical movie generates most of its theatrical revenue in the first 21 days of release. With packaged media sellthrough waning, studios contend premium VOD generates higher margins to select audiences in advance of the traditional retail or rental window.
But theaters operators aren’t buying it.
“We just feel it’s a time to draw a line in the sand,” Rafe Cohen, president of Galaxy Theatres, which operates 106 screens in California, Washington, Nevada and Texas, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is virtually a simultaneous release that we don’t think will be helpful to anyone. We’re standing on principle that it’s best to preserve the theatrical window.”