Universal Comes To Their Senses and Drops Tower Heist VOD Plans

Last week Universal studios announced their plans to make available to the upcoming Bret Rattner film Tower Heist through VOD for $59.99 USD three weeks after the film premiered in theaters.  Unsurprisingly, theater chains were pissed.  Cinemark, the U.S.’s third-largest theater chain, quickly announced that it would not be showing Tower Heist in any of its 3,800 theaters, and several smaller chains including Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres, and Emagine Theatres followed suit.

This Tower Heist controversy is but another entry into the on-going battle between studios attempting to distribute their films through on demand, and the theaters who typically show them.  Earlier this year a number of U.S theaters also protested when DirectTV signed a deal with 4 major distributors to release their films on demand just 60 days after their theatrical release for only $29.99.  This trend represents a step backwards for the film distribution agency.  It’s an example of studio executives saying “how can we make the most profit now” as opposed to “how can we ensure the most profit in the future”.  Late VOD releases are a band-aid solution to the current issues plaguing the film industry.  In order for any significant positive changes to occur the solution is going to have to be significantly more drastic.\


On the other hand, theater chains could better spend their time actually improving the theater going experience rather than challenge anything that serves to change it.  There’s a reason box office numbers are low: for some people going to the theaters just doesn’t have the same allure as it used to.  Spending your time and effort protesting something that only helps the people that don’t give you any business in the first place isn’t going to improve things.

I get the feeling we’re on the brink of something big.  Sometime in the near future, maybe 5-10 years from now, a company is going to come along and make vast and weeping changes to the way we watch films.  Because if we’re being honest, vast and sweeping changes need to be made.  With every year the incentive to go to the theaters decreases.  Someone if going to either have to change the theater experience, or offer a solution that is focused not on leeching money from it’s customers, but on improving the way they watch films instead.


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Categories: News

Author:Ryan Crockett

Super-geek and cinephile, artist and writer, Ryan Crockett knows way too much about the French Revolution.


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2 Comments on “Universal Comes To Their Senses and Drops Tower Heist VOD Plans”

  1. October 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I think 3d, if done well, can keep people going to the theatre for awhile. Problem is, like many things Hollywood, they prefer to do it half assed. And grab cash.

    Meanwhile, you’re right that the VOD revolution may be on the way, but it ain’t gonna start with Tower Heist, and not at $60. The theatres should have let them do that, so it would have failed, so it would have set that plan of attack back years.

    WHO would pay $60 to watch “Tower Heist”??

    • October 14, 2011 at 6:24 am #

      I would be very surprised if anyone paid $60 to see tower heist. It’s the type of backwards thinking typical in Hollywood nowadays:

      1. See a problem
      2. Ignore it
      3. Try and soak as much money from movie goers as possible before the problem gets too big
      4. Throw said money at the problem.

      Never going to fix anything.

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