“Tower Heist” offered on Video on Demand 3 weeks after theatrical debut

HollywoodNews.com: It could be a game-changer or could just be an irrelevant blip (it’s so hard to tell sometimes). The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Universal has announced a (very) limited test run with offering premium-priced Video On Demand for Brett Ratner’s all-star caper comedy Tower Heist (trailer) just three weeks after the film’s November 4th theatrical debut.

Long-story short, if you live in Atlanta or Portland and get your cable TV via Comcast (which now of course owns Universal), you will have the option of purchasing a (I presume) one-time viewing of the Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy film for ‘just’ $59.99 just three weeks after the theatrical opening weekend (which I presume means the start of its fourth weekend in theaters). Other online or cable companies will allegedly have the option to offer this same service at the same time, but we’ll see if anyone else bites. The price point is obviously intended to appeal for larger families or large groups of friends who don’t have to see the newest releases right away, but don’t want to wait until DVD and the other various home-video platforms.

If you live in LA, New York City, and I presume other big cities, a first-run evening ticket is about $12. So factor in a family of four seeing an evening show is going to run them $50 alone before concessions and any parking fees are included. Even in cities where tickets still remain under $10 (less than you’d think), the bill can easily end up topping $60 when you add in family-sized refreshments and the like. The difference between this VOD offering and last Spring’s disastrous ‘Premium VOD’ is that this will offer consumers the chance to see the movie while it’s still in first run theaters and well-before it’s available on DVD and other OnDemand-type sources.

So while I can think of no one who would pay $60 to see a first-run film at home by themselves or even with another party, I do see the theoretical appeal of a bunch of friends or a larger family getting together and taking it in. What’s your thoughts? Is this another botched attempt to circumvent the theatrical experience, or does the swiftness of said debut make it a more attractive option for larger parties?

Photo by Universal Pictures

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