For those of you wondering when the Internet will put movie theaters out of business, continue holding your breath. Even though the technology for bringing new movie releases directly to the home, bypassing movie theaters and their overpriced concession stands altogether, it’s still a long way before coming to fruition.
It’s also becoming clear movies like Red State are the exception, not the norm.
What we have is the upcoming Ben Stiller movie, Tower Heist and Universal Pictures strategy of releasing it on VOD shortly after it made its theatrical debut. The VOD version was going to be available for the eye-popping price of $59.99. Misguided price points aside, the idea was a step in the right direction for an all new avenue of movie distribution: Direct to the consumer without the need of going to the local cinema(s), provided your town is big enough to support more than one.
However, thanks in large part to backlash from a number of national theaters — Cinemark, Regency Theaters, Galaxy Theaters, and Emagine Theaters — Universal Pictures is shelving its Tower Heist/VOD strategy. The theater chains listed said they would not be showing the new release because of the VOD plans, which, in turn, prompted Universal Pictures to cancel the VOD release.
Over at SlashFilm.com, they have a quote from the Galaxy Theaters president, which reads an awful like a “protect my right to make money” plea:
“We just feel it’s a time to draw a line in the sand,” said Galaxy Theatres president Rafe Cohen. “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.”
Perhaps I’m not being sensitive enough to the potential plight of theaters losing business to the ability to deliver VOD offerings to a large majority of homes in the United States, but it’s clear the reason for the outcry is because these theaters do not want to join the growing list of things killed by the technology of the Internet.
With all due respect, businesses fail all the time, and while it’s well within these companies’ rights to fight for their survival, sometimes evolution makes things obsolete. That’s the nature of advancement. While it may be true the silly $60 price tag on the Tower Heist VOD would, in all likelihood, limit its uptake, the fact the movie studios are even considering the option is a step in the right direction.
Too bad the various theater chains don’t feel the same, but isn’t business supposed to be on an “adapt or get left behind” playing field? Even if VOD does become commonplace, it’s not like every person in the world will stop going to theaters, if, for nothing else, the opportunity to get out of the house. Furthermore, how many domiciles have screens as big as a movie theaters? Not many.
With that in mind, here’s the trailer for Tower Heist:
Would you, as a consumer, change to VOD if all the studios started releasing their new movies in that format, or would theater-going still be a part of your recreational activity? Let us know what you think.