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Cinemark threatens to boycott Tower Heist over premium VOD plan

10.07.2011

Earlier this week, it was announced that Universal was testing a new "premium VOD" plan that would offer up TOWER HEIST three weeks after its November 4th release date for $60 per rental. I reacted like most people who read the news: I laaaaughed and laughed. But there are some people who don't find the news so funny. Cinemark, the third-largest theater chain in the US, is threatening to block TOWER HEIST from all their screens if Universal goes ahead with the plan.

The theater chain said in a statement, "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."

What does this mean to Universal's VOD plan? Will Cinemark make good on their threat? What do the other two major theater chains - AMC and Regal - have to say on the matter? And why is Cinemark referring to itself in the third person??

Reps from Universal have yet to comment on the matter and AMC and Regal have yet to decide on an action plan. But if they decide to join Cinemark in their boycott, Uni has a problem on their hands. If it were a movie like THE AVENGERS, with exhibitors aware of the film's drawing power, it might be a different story. But I think Cinemark realizes that TOWER HEIST, which is tracking weakly, is a good opportunity to dig in their heels.

In fairness, the premium VOD will only be made available to about 500,000 VOD customers and of that number, I'd say maybe 50,000 will take advantage of the opportunity? And that's about the same number of people who participate in free word-of-mouth screenings nationwide. So it's not really cutting into their revenue now but Cinemark seems worried this will set a precedent and could lead to Universal pulling these same shenanigans with FAST AND FURIOUS 6 or Tom Cruise's OBLIVION.

Source: LA Times

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