If you didn’t know, last week Universal announced that their film, Tower Heist, which opens in theaters on November 4th would be released to VOD (Video On Demand aka Pay tv) 3 weeks later for the measly price of $59.99. For the sake of things lets just say $60 dollars… they’re not fooling anyone.
When this was first reported a few things happened:
First – People were confused that anyone would pay $60 for a movie 3 weeks later.
Second – People started to wonder how this would change things down the road with releases post-theater run. It’s interesting because there isn’t nor has there ever been some magical number that says when a movie comes out after it’s theater run. It seems to always change. For instance, I want to know why X-Men: First Class is on DVD but Super 8 is nowhere to be found. Weren’t they in the theater at the same time? Give me my F’n JJ / Spielberg film.
Third – This started the inevitable process of people never having to leave their living rooms and drastically altering the movie going experience. This is a whole other can of worms… we’ll just stick to Tower Heist.
Earlier this week exhibitors (theater owners) went bat shit crazy and strong-armed Universal by saying “You release this 3 weeks later, then we’ll boycott this film.” Universal took note and pulled the 3 weeks later release date, which probably felt awfully gratifying for a lot of theater owners but we all know they’ll lose this war in the long term.
When this all went down nobody seemed to care, in fact I think people were happy because when you put the words MOVIE and 60 DOLLARS together we black out due to not being able to comprehend the concept. With nobody getting behind the VOD release Universal basically lost early on. All the talk was “Who the fuck would pay $60?” as opposed to “Hmmm, I might pay that.”
This is what Universal did wrong in their little experiment… And how they could have made this work, and like always – it’s a money thing:
First off $60 is insane for this movie… Or is it? The argument is – “If you and your wife take your kids to the movie it can come to just as much” which is actually kind of true. Quick financial breakdown:
Husband and Wife with 2 kids at $10 a ticket on a Friday night: $40.
Grand Total: $58
Not to mention any variables of paying for parking… extra candy for the bitching kid… more drinks. You may actually top $60 dollars going to see a 2 hour movie.
What they should have done was start much lower… say… $39.99, ahem, $40. Sure, lower is better when it comes to spending but Tower Heist is sort of a perfect storm in a few ways from the outside looking in. It has early positive reviews, an apparent resurgence from Eddie Murphy (for the 18th time), and Ben Stiller.
The marquee stars are interesting because they appeal to such a wide audience. People can choose to remember Eddie Murphy as the guy who did kick ass stand up, Coming to America, SNL, and The Nutty Professor… And then happily forget about Pluto Nash and Bowfinger. Then you have Stiller who’s still appealing to the crowd who remembers him from Something about Mary and the younger generation who knows him from A Night at The Museum. OHHH not to mention one is black and the other is white which equals… BIG AUDIENCE! For the sake of talking about cast lets not forget that Ferris Bueller is in this movie and so is Michael Pena. Man, this movie is covering all it’s race angles.
If you start low with your initial price when dealing with this movie people will want it and it starts to look like a good deal, I’m not totally sure people have accepted they’re blowing so much money at the movies quite yet. Once people start to want it then you get people on your side with every social media outlet known to mankind. Suddenly we want to watch Tower Heist and every other movie in 3 weeks… or else.
Universal dropped the ball here by about 20 bucks. They could have seriously started to alter things if not by a lot then juuust a little. A little nudge if you would. It seems like all Universal did was let the public side with the exhibitors.
If nothing else the door has been cracked opened. This was the first major studio film to really test these waters like it did. If Tower Heist doesn’t manage to CPR Eddie Murphy’s career then we can look back at it as the movie that attempted the inevitable paradigm shift that’s slowly taking place.
…And it made us realize that it’s fucking expensive for a night at the movies.