Comcast and Universal Looking to VOD to Shatter Release Windows

Tower Heist

Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller will be stealing their way into theaters on Nov. 4 with the caper flick Tower Heist. However, many theater owners are likely to think the real crime will occur on November 23 when Comcast and Universal Studios begin offering the movie over video-on-demand. This initial test run will be limited to two markets and be priced at $59.99, so I don’t imagine that anyone involved is expecting blockbuster numbers, but theater owners know this is just the beginning.

 Comcast and Universal Pictures will be conducting a trial run that would deliver first-run films still in theaters to Comcast subscribers through video on demand. Movies will cost $60 each and be available for up to 48 hours after ordering.

Tech Spot

The release window between theatrical release and VOD and home video release has been shrinking for years, leaving theaters less time to earn money off the movies they run and encouraging moviegoers to hold out for the less expensive home theater experience.  Cinemark, the third largest theater chain in the country, is already threatening to boycott Tower Heist in response to the VOD trial.

Personally, I can’t see paying $60 just for the opportunity to watch a movie for 48 hours. I know the right combination of ticket prices and family sizes can make this a justifiable price, but I think in the long run, Comcast and its ilk are more likely to end up being squeezed the hardest by a shrinking release window.  There are certain movies that just demand the big screen experience, and movies that don’t justify the expense of a trip to the theaters are not likely to justify the price of VOD either. If the studios are successul in pushing up the release window for VOD, you can bet that DVD and Blu-Ray won’t be far behind.

  • Interesting.  Never thought

    Interesting.  Never thought about how streaming may one day threaten the theaters as it has with DVD movie rental B&M businesses.  But, it makes sense.

    It also opens up a new market.  Many people like myself see their interest in going out to a theater waning as they get older.  Properly priced, this could be the beginning of the end of movie theaters.   And I think that will be a few years away. 

  • I’ll still wait for it to be

    I’ll still wait for it to be released on Blu-Ray.  For $60 you can buy three or four BD movies.  Even then I’ll only get it from NetFlix or RedBox.  I’ve learned over the years that any movie worth watching is also worth waiting for.  Studios bank on the public wanting to see a movie as soon as it’s released so they’re looking for any sucker that’s willing to fork over the cash to be part of the first wave of viewers.  Heck, I rarely go to the theater anymore because it not only costs too much but the sound system in my home puts virtually every theater I’ve been in over the last few decades to shame.

  • Wow, only $60!  Sign me

    Wow, only $60!  Sign me up…  Sometimes I wonder what the executives are thinking and sometimes I know it’s just $$$.

  • It would be interesting to

    It would be interesting to see how many takers they have at $60