The Cinemark movie chain is threatening not to show the Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy comedy Tower Heist in any of its theaters if Universal goes through with its plan to make the movie available on-demand in homes — for $59.99 — just 21 days after it hits theaters to roughly 500,000 Comcast subscribers in two cities. In a lengthy statement, Cinemark explains its position:
It has recently been announced that Universal Pictures plans to offer the Eddie Murphy comedy Tower Heist to digital cable subscribers in the Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Oregon markets three weeks after the film opens in theatres. Over the past year Cinemark has continually voiced its concern to Universal and other studios regarding any early-to-the-home “premium video-on-demand” during the theatrical release period, which averages just over four months. Movies are designed to be exhibited in today’s state of the art digital theatres which enhances awareness of the film and maximizes downstream distribution. Many artists and business professionals in our industry have expressed similar concerns about early-to-the-home premium video-on-demand offerings as evidenced by the Open Letter From The Creative Community On Protecting The Movie-Going Experience released earlier this year.
Cinemark recognizes and acknowledges the changing technological landscape and related challenges that Universal and the other studios are facing in the in-home window. Keeping in mind the best interests of the creative community, the studios, exhibition and the consumer, we have welcomed direct discussions between Cinemark and each of the major and independent studios, including Universal, regarding distribution concerns. Cinemark has urged Universal Pictures to reconsider its market test of this product. If Universal Pictures moves forward with its Tower Heist premium video-on-demand offering, as announced, Cinemark has determined, in its best business interests, that it will decline to exhibit this film in its theatres.
Universal had no comment.