Last week, Universal announced plans to upend the traditional model of movie distribution by both offering the forthcoming Brett Ratner comedy Tower Heist through video-on-demand only three weeks after its theatrical release, and also asking people to accept the idea that watching a Brett Ratner comedy is worth $59.99. The studio crowed, a hundred “this will change the future of movies” think-pieces bloomed—and, of course, theater owners lost their shit, with Cinemark leading a boycott of the film that eventually snared other chains like Regency, Galaxy, and National Amusements.
And today, Universal blinked: In response to the outcry, the studio has decided to “delay” its experiment with early VOD release—something it was only going to try in Portland and Atlanta anyway—and revisit it at a later date. Promisingly, the National Association Of Theater Owners issued a complementary statement saying it recognized that studios needed to explore new models of distribution, leaving the door open for cooperation on a plan like this down the road. So, it’s quite possible that the studio will find a way to shrink the theatrical window, and that a single film will end up “changing the future of movies.” It just won’t be Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist. Obviously.
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