Last week, Universal announced plans to offer the upcoming film Tower Heist as a $60 rental for Comcast customers in Portland and Atlanta. The rental fee would have covered unlimited viewings for 48 hours. It turns out theater companies such as Cinemark and National Amusements didn’t like that idea and threatened to not show Tower Heist if Universal went along with its plan. Universal has since decided to not offer Tower Heist as a home rental.
If Universal had its way, Tower Heist would have been in the homes of Comcast customers in two cities three weeks after the movie entered theaters.
Theaters are so resistant to ideas such as this because a large portion of theater revenue comes from concessions. Those $5 buckets of small popcorn add up over time. If customers were given the option of staying at home to watch new movies, the theaters would lose out on that money.
Even though Tower Heist would have already been playing in theaters for three weeks, the fear is that customers who would have gone to the theater would decide to wait until they could rent it at home.