We’ve heard talks about plans to try offering big Hollywood movies on demand not too long after they’re released in theaters for a while now, and it looks like those who support the idea are ready to test the waters.
According to the LA Times, Universal Pictures will offer up Brett Ratner‘s new movie, Tower Heist, three weeks after its November 4, 2011 theatrical release through Universal parent company Comcast’s on demand services. The movie will only be available to 500,000 customers in the Atlanta and Portland, Oregon areas to test the waters of this new option, and those of you who have this option will only have to throw down $59.99 to check the movie out.
Universal and Comcast will pay close attention to how well the movie does released this early and at this price, while firm eyes will also be focused on how offering a movie three weeks after theatrical release affects box office numbers.
I’ve personally always liked the idea of a big Hollywood flick being available on demand a short time after it’s released in theaters—movies make most of what they’re going to make in that three–week time period or so anyway—but I do not know about this one.
First of all, is a Brett Ratner movie really the best title to be testing the waters with? It does star some big names like Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Matthew Broderick, and it does look surprisingly good, but one has to assume that very few people will be willing to drop $60 to see it. For a group of friends who are excited to see the movie, yeah, they could have a small gathering and order it like a UFC PPV, and they would probably even save some money depending on how many of them there are. But that’s about the only scenario that would make sense.
Similar tests have been done in the past, as well; Universal, along with three other studios, tried releasing movies through DirecTV for $29.99 two months after they hit theaters. The test was not managed very well, however, and it was difficult to tell whether or not it was an effective option. Also, by the two–month mark, a DVD/Blu–ray release is not too far off and would be the more appealing choice to most.
And as you might have imagined, movie theater owners nationwide have been outraged at even the talks of offering movies on demand early, let alone these tests to see if it works out. As the LA Times points out, the theater owners in Atlanta and Portland could rebel and refuse to run Tower Heist at all, putting Universal in a tough position and possibly forcing them to decide not to even bother with the test. Then again, Universal could fire right back and try offering the movie on demand in those markets from the very start.
I’m still curious about this option, but I think there would have to be many more titles, and a much, MUCH lower price tag.
What say you, our faithful Doomers? Any interest in big movies on demand, or is it not worth sacrificing that cinema magic to watch it in the comfort of home?
[Source: LA Times]