Universal to Offer 'Tower Heist' on Early VOD for $59.99

3:14 PM PST 10/05/2011 by Pamela McClintock
Universal Studios

Comcast customers in Portland and Atlanta can watch the Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy-Matthew Broderick action comedy in their homes only three weeks after its theatrical debut.

Upping the stakes dramatically, Universal and parent company Comcast will make Brett Ratner’s star-packed action comedy Tower Heist available on premium VOD for $59.99 just three weeks after the movie opens in theaters on Nov. 4.

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Labeled a test, Tower Hesist, starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick, will be offered to roughly 500,000 Comcast digital subsribers in Portland and Atlanta.

The move, however, could irk theater owners, who are opposed to shrinking the theatrical window to even 60 days, but Universal insiders say film studio chairman Adam Fogelson tried to ward off any opposition by informing exhibitors that such a test was forthcoming.

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“The first of its kind, this experiment will allow the two companies to sample consumer appetite for this film in this window at this price while allowing the film to achieve its full potential at the box office,” a Universal spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, exhibitors threatened to change their trailer policies when Warner Bros., Fox, Sony and Universal launched a test premium VOD service on DirecTV, offering titles including Unknown and Just Go With It 60 days after their theatrical release for $29.99.

The test wasn't considered successful. Behind the scenes, studio executives questioned whether 60 days was too long of a time period.

Universal said other “other experiments are being contemplated by the two companies to give a rounder picture of what kind of a PVOD experience is the most attractive to consumers.”

The $59.99 test was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

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