Goodbye $60 Movie Rentals; We Hardly Knew Ye
Bowing to pressure from theater owners, Universal has scrapped plans for a test of Premium Video on Demand (PVOD) that would have made its upcoming Tower Heist available for a $60 rental fee in two markets, Atlanta and Portland OR, three weeks after it hit theaters. Two large exhibitors, Cinemark and National Amusements had threatened to boycott the movie if Universal went ahead with its plans. In a statement on Wednesday, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, thanked Universal for canceling the test and for engaging in discussions with theater owners about it. He added, "NATO recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit." Universal released a separate statement maintaining that PVOD can co-exist with theatrical exhibition and that it plans to work "without our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future." If Cinemark and National Amusements had gone ahead with their boycott, Universal might have lost millions of dollars in revenue -- millions that likely couldn't have been offset even if the studio expanded its test nationwide. Numerous entertainment websites had been asking readers a variant of the question, "Would you pay $60 to watch Tower Heist at home three weeks after it was released?" The answer was a nearly universal "No!"