You might recall that this week, Universal Pictures announced their plan to premiere the latest Brett Ratner comedy, Tower Heist, on Video on Demand (VOD) a mere three weeks after its theatrical release. It's only in two markets – Atlanta and Portland – so it's not likely to make a heavy impact the theatrical gross, but it's also a test: if successful, it could mark a new business model for studios, one which could jeopardize movie theaters across the country. Why see a movie in theaters if you can see it in three weeks at home?
Well, because it'll cost you $60 to watch something Tower Heist, of all things, but you can imagine why Cinemark, the third largest movie theater chain in America, is feeling threatened. Now they're making a threat of their own: if Universal Pictures releases Tower Heist on VOD in November, Deadline reports, Cinemark won't carry it at all.
Slow clap, everybody. Slow clap.
We completely understand where Cinemark is coming from. While there's no actual rule stating that studios aren't allowed to switch the business model around – and some companies, like Magnolia, have been doing it for years with releases like Hobo with a Shotgun and The Troll Hunter – the film industry's stability could be seriously compromised if there's a swift shift in the status quo. We don't think that theatrical releases will ever be seriously endangered, and will always be around in some form, but unfortunately the real problem here is that seeing a movie in theaters is expensive, and often unpleasant thanks to frequently lax attitudes towards cell phone usage and mid-movie conversations. Of course, the odds of anybody charging less for their products, particularly as a new matter of course, is about as unlikely as paying $60 to see Tower Heist.
In other words, we're pretty sure this is all going to turn out fine. But it's still suspenseful to watch these Cinemark and Universal fire their warning shots.
CraveOnline will be back with more Tower Heist craziness as soon as we figure out how Tower Heist became an important movie. What were the odds?