‘Tower Heist’ VOD Plan Sparks Theater Boycott

Four theater chains have vowed not to screen the comedy if Universal Pictures releases it on VOD three weeks after its release.

Universal's VOD platform for Tower Heist incites theater boycotts
Universal's VOD platform for Tower Heist incites theater boycotts
Last week, we reported Universal Pictures is planning to release its upcoming comedy Tower Heist through Comcast's VOD format, just three weeks after hitting theaters on November 4. Although this new VOD release will only be available to Comcast customers in Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia, four theater chains have threatened to boycott Tower Heist if this plan is enacted.

Cinemark USA, Galaxy Theatres, Regency Theatres, and Emagine Theatres are vowing to shun the comedy release, along with several independent chains which control over 50 screens across the country. Here's what Rafe Cohen, president of Galaxy Theatres, had to say about the proposed boycott.

"We just feel it's a time to draw a line in the sand. 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."

Cinemark poses the biggest threat to Tower Heist as the nation's third largest theater chain, with over 3,800 screens. Galaxy Theatres controls 106 screens, while Regency operates 150 screens across the country. Regency CEO Lyndon Golin indicated his chain followed the precedent set by Cinemark, which was the first theater chain to threaten a boycott.

"We certainly support Cinemark. If their position is they won't run it, then we won't run it either. Movies shown in the home on such a short window is a dagger to our business."

Tower Heist will be available to over 500,000 Comcast customers in Portland, Oregon and Atlanta, Georgia three weeks after its November 4 theatrical debut. The movie will cost $59.99.

Tower Heist was released November 4th, 2011 and stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Téa Leoni. The film is directed by Brett Ratner.

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Comments (20)

  1. incmob

    @combatmadness360 again, i agree with you, that directors can interprupt an idea wrong or give misguided cues to an actor or a scene. some directors do too tight angles for a fight scene, or too many close ups thinking it might convey some type of emotion to the characters. Even spielberg has had his moments of flaw, ford coppolas newest films have gotten less than rave reviews, and must i mention brian de palmas bonfire of the vanitys, which was a best seller but turned out to be less than in the box office. Every aspect of a film is either success or failure of the contributing parties... i even think the composers of films heighten that success. many remember the themes of predator, back to the future, star wars... how many remember the theme to scarface, which was successful in its own right, even with cult status. so i do understand exactly what you are saying, but within the context of the film itself, not the financial decisions that come after. for example, ridley scott has been deeply involved in the blade runner cuts, however michael bay was not involved in the transformers 1 and 2 double pack on blu ray. but yes... a film if not successful a director is typically the one to blame, which is entirely unfair if you count the partners involved.

    3 years agoby @incmobFlag

  2. The Boondock Saint

    @incmob You are totally right about how screenplay writers totally get away with so much. I would also like to point out though, sometimes it is just the directors fault. The screenplay could be great, but the way a scene was directed could totally change the quality of a scene. The director could have an actor act out a scene in a way that was not a good way to express a line. But you are right, the directors really do wrongfully get alot of sh*t. And you are right about the whole lucas and indy 4 thing as well. At cannes (I think) a guy actually stood up (after they screened the film) and yelled "stop hurting us george!" It's funny how he didn't even mention spielberg.

    3 years agoby @combatmadness360Flag

  3. incmob

    @combatmadness360 simply sarcasm about lucas, just a point that anything he touches people tend to blame him without his contributing partners... example... indiana jones KOTCS. and thanks for seeing my point... most people dont realize that if a film fails, that it is only the director trying to visually create a film from a SCREENPLAY, which most directors do not write... they may make changes or cut things out due to time or what have you, but for the most part films are only based on screenplays... back to the topic however, most people tend to forget that studios have a lot of hands in things... VOD is one example, and maybe through dailies or screenings with execs they felt that the film would make more money through VOD than just in release... none of these are fact, just my assumption but when a director is done with a film typically they move on to the next project or promote the film a bit but i cant see many directors having a huge say in whether they will release a film through VOD.

    3 years agoby @incmobFlag

  4. The Boondock Saint

    @incmob You're right. The director is just the person we jump to when we don't like something. But I am sure that he had some hand in this, although I should not have put all of the blame on him. And I did not know that george lucas had anything to do with this?

    3 years agoby @combatmadness360Flag

  5. Justhim_sir

    60 bucks for a 90 or 100 minute film, please! Rich fools or fake ballers would pay that much, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    3 years agoby @justhim-sirFlag

  6. John Shutt

    @2movieguys what the dumb VOD idea or the boycott by the theaters to protect the theater experience.

    3 years agoby @John-ShuttFlag

  7. CelluloidDreams

    I wonder if AMC Theaters will join the boycott!??!

    Very stupid to have a movie on VOD and in theaters at the same time!.

    3 years agoby @2movieguysFlag

  8. CelluloidDreams

    I'm 'totally in agreement with this!!

    3 years agoby @2movieguysFlag

  9. John Shutt

    @moviegeek Well said, moviegeek. Dont back down, theaters and dont let theese corporate jackasses try to bury you under the sand whenyou are still the top choice in film viewing. Movie theaters forever.

    3 years agoby @John-ShuttFlag

  10. fanboy

    This is good news, VOD should only be released when the movie is released on DVD/Blu Ray. There is a reason Movie Theaters

    3 years agoby @fanboyFlag

  11. incmob

    @combatmadness360 i really dont think it is even remotedly valid to blame the director for this... why is it people think that if a director "directs the movie" are the responsible ones for continuous ideas such as VOD. this is not brett ratners fault... this is the film studio taking the plunge and the studio alone. I am really surprised that no one has tried to blame george lucas on this one... wow.

    3 years agoby @incmobFlag

  12. skywise

    I still dont know what to think about all that VOD stuff but like @thedude-abides says if they dont think the movie will rake in the cash it sort of makes sense. On the other hand i can see why certain other major directors take a disliking to it. The think is we live in a strange time when it comes to movies and tv and the model is changing and so the studios have to change with it....they just need to quit with the silly remakes. But that is like beating a dead horse with a stick....its been debated so often i usually just stay away from those topics. At least i try.

    3 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  13. moviegeek

    I agree with the theaters. Don't fix what ain't broke.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  14. thedude-abides

    Here's the thing. VOD releases are only for movies that aren't going to rake in a bunch of money anyway. If they were expected to rake in the big bucks, believe me, they would keep them in theaters as long as possible. Did anyone see Harry Potter released on VOD this close to its theatrical release? Of course not.

    I understand the position of the theaters, as I have feared this inevitable transition for some time, but the fact remains. The studio doesn't have an obligation to the theater. Universal thinks they can make more money by coupling the theatrical release of the film with a VOD release. If they think they can do that with the possibility of a boycott, more power to 'em.

    3 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  15. MovieManiac

    Good. F*ck this stupid VOD release. The movie should be released on VOD the same time as when it is released on Bluray.

    3 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  16. The Boondock Saint

    I hope they stop that VOD release. brett ratner is an *sshole for doing that. It would destroy theater business.

    3 years agoby @combatmadness360Flag

  17. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    It's like they want to cause an extinction

    3 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  18. Ghostman

    Dammit! just release the darn movie in theaters already! what's the point of having customers pay nearly 60dollars to watch a movie in theaters for 10 dollars?!

    3 years agoby @ghostmanFlag

  19. Corey W.

    This whole VOD attempt at placing new releases weeks after release is stupid anyways. I really don't want this action to be a problem with movies being released over the next few months. First it was HP7Part 2 (Luckily, it never happened) and now this. What's next? All I know is that Warner Bros. is taking the hit hard.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

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