BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

TOWER HEIST May Change How We Watch Movies - UPDATE

Tower Heist

There's a bit of good news coming out of Hollywood for anyone who prefers curling up on the couch to take in a new flick over schlepping to the nearest cineplex. Seems that universal is plowing forward with a controversial plan to release the Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller headlined comedy Tower Heist, on video-on-demand just a mere three weeks after it debuts in theaters.

There's a catch though. It will cost you $60. Yes, $60. If memory serves, wasn't that the price for a brand new VHS copy of Top Gun when it became one of the first movies available for retail purchase back in 1987? Or, was that how much I paid for losing my rental copy? Can't remember.

Anyway, though it's just an experiment, the pilot will undoubtedly be used as a barometer for similar plans going forward. Universal will, 21 days after after its cinema release, make the Brett Ratner directed film available over Comcast's VOD service in a limited number of locations that represents about 500,000 homes. So, not only will it be outrageously expensive, but will only be available for purchase in Portland, Oregon and Atlanta Georgia. Oh, and only for Comcast customers, apparently.

Don't worry if the idea doesn't sound too appealing, because it's not going over too well with cinema chains either who survive on sustained theatrical windows and long-run box office hits. In fact, on Monday a number of cinema chains, including Galaxy Theaters, Regency Theaters, and Emagine Theaters threatened to not exhibit the film if it moves forward with the shortened video-on-demand window. It's also expected that many smaller independent houses will follow suit with the boycott.

"We just feel it's a time to draw a line in the sand," said Rafe Cohen, president of Galaxy Theatres, which operates 106 screens in California, Washington, Nevada and Texas. "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." Of course they do. After all, it makes sense for them to try to stand up against anything that might set a bad precedent for theaters and eventually lead to customers staying home to watch movies. But now with Cinemark and its whopping 3,800 screens saying that it may also join the boycott, the stakes have been raised to a new level. Who will blink first?

Here's an idea. Why not let Universal move forward with its hair-brained plan, see how many consumers don't pay the $60 price, then realize how this all becomes a moot point anyway.

UPDATE: Universal has done a turnabout by cancelling this previously announced VOD release, but is not giving up on the strategy. "Universal continues to believe that the theater experience and a VOD 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."

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