Modern technology is all about convenience, and we as consumers have a remarkable capacity to assimilate that convenience quickly — that is to say, as soon as a new amenity becomes available to us, we immediately forget what life was like before it. Take video-on-demand (VOD) for example. It was not long ago that a Friday night trip to Blockbuster was common place, but nowadays the video store seems archaic and bothersome. VOD allows for the same movies to be available for the same price (about $4 or $5) with a simple click of the remote. No need to even get off the couch.
So what if first run theatrical releases were available in the same way? How much would you pay?
Universal is planning to conduct an experiment. The media giant will be releasing the new Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy comedy “Tower Heist” to Comcast cable subscribes only 21 days after it hits theaters. The cost for this premium movie at home? $59.99.
Before you scoff at the ludicrous price, think about this. Family of four buys tickets to “Tower Heist” at $12 a pop? That’s $48 dollars. Family buys popcorn and sodas at $8 dollars each (and even that’s reasonable). That’s $32 dollars. So that family of four just spent $80 dollars on a movie night. Slightly less crazy when you think of it that way.
But this test plan (to be rolled out in Atlanta and Portland) is not without controversy. Theater chain Cinemark is threatening to not show the movie in any of its theaters if Universal goes through with the test. Cinemark released a statement saying “movies are designed to be exhibited in today’s state of the art digital theaters which enhances awareness of the film and maximizes downstream distribution.” Translation? Movie theaters need butts in seats and how dare Universal try and stop that.
So it remains to be seen if Universal goes through with the test (the initial offering will be to 500,000 Comcast subscribers) but if they do, would you shell out $60 bucks to watch a movie at home?