Universal Topples Early VOD Release Of 'Tower Heist'

Faced with pressure from upset theater owners, Universal Pictures has backed away from a plan to make its Tower Heist film available on VOD only three weeks after its theatrical debut this Nov. 4th.

Under plans announced earlier this October, Universal Studios was planning to make the film available early on Comcast systems in Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Ore.

The early release would have been priced at a hefty $59.99, according to a report by Los Angeles Times.

Studios and multichannel operators have been trying for some time to shorten release windows but these VOD release plans were the closest to the theatrical film release attempted in recent years and were quickly met by strong opposition from theater owners.

Cinemark Holdings and National Amusements were among the exhibitors who announced that they would not show the Tower Heist because of the early VOD release.

The National Association of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian stated: "NATO would like to thank Universal for responding to various theater owners' concerns and cancelling the PVOD test it was contemplating. They have been engaged with individual exhibitors on this test, and while it was something that many theater owners could not ultimately support, the open and collaborative nature of the dialogue is appreciated. NATO recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit."

Multichannel News's R. Thomas Umstead contributed to this report