UPDATE, 12:25 PM: The resolution of the spat between Universal and theater owners comes after a week of what we’re told were “dozens and dozens and dozens” of phone conversations exhibition company chiefs had with Universal Studios president Ron Meyer and chairman Adam Fogelson. Some theater owners were surprised this morning when they learned of Universal’s decision to scrap the premium video-on-demand experiment with Tower Heist. The exhibition companies had not made a specific concession, though Cinemark was joined by several smaller circuits and National Amusements in saying it would not screen the movie if the VOD plan — set for two cities, Atlanta and Portland, Ore. — went forward. But it’s considered noteworthy that the statement from the National Association Of Theatre Owners says that the trade group “recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.” In a separate statement, Regal CEO Amy Miles reiterated the theme saying: “We understand and respect Universal’s interest in finding a successful model for ancillary markets and we remain willing to assist Universal, and our other studio partners, in developing a strategy that is acceptable and productive for both parties.”
(Washington, D.C. and North Hollywood, Calif. – October 12, 2011) In response to Universal’s decision to cancel its planned release of Tower Heist to the home on Video on Demand just three weeks after its theatrical debut, National Association of Theatre Owners president and CEO John Fithian stated, “NATO would like to thank Universal for responding to various theater owners’ concerns and cancelling the PVOD test it was contemplating. They have been engaged with individual exhibitors on this test, and while it was something that many theater owners could not ultimately support, the open and collaborative nature of the dialogue is appreciated. NATO recognizes that studios need to find new models and opportunities in the home market, and looks forward to distributors and exhibitors working together for their mutual benefit.”
LOS ANGELES, CA, October 12, 2011—Universal Pictures today announced that in response to a request from theater owners, it has decided to delay its planned premium home video on demand (PVOD) experiment in which Comcast digital subscribers in Portland and Atlanta would have had the opportunity to rent TOWER HEIST on demand just three weeks after its theatrical release on November 4, 2011. Universal continues to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive and we look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future.