Giant Theater Chain Cinemark Threatens to Boycott Universal's 'Tower Heist'

Universal Studios
"Tower Heist"

The exhibitor says it won't carry Brett Ratner's action-comedy if the studio moves ahead with a controversial premium VOD test that would make the film available in homes for $59.99 three weeks after its Nov. 4 theatrical release.

Reacting swiftly, giant theater circuit Cinemark has told Universal it won’t carry Brett Ratner’s action-comedy Tower Heist in any of its theaters if the studio goes forward with a premium VOD test that would make the film available in homes only three weeks after it opens in theaters.

Cinemark, the country’s third-largest circuit, issued the warning one day after Universal and parent company Comcast announced the premium VOD test. Tower Heist will be offered to roughly 500,000 Comcast digital subscribers in Atlanta and Portland for a pricey $59.99.

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

"Cinemark has urged Universal Pictures to reconsider its market test of this product," Cinemark 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 theaters."

Tower Heist -- starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick -- opens in theaters Nov. 4, meaning it will be available on premium VOD over the Thanksgiving weekend (rival studios questioned whether it is wise to encourage poeple to watch movies at home during one of the most intense moviegoing weekends of the year).

Even though the experiment, designed to gauge consumer interest, is only taking place in two markets, Cinemark won’t carry the film in any of its theaters.

STORY: Brett Ratner Not Involved in $59.99 VOD 'Tower Heist' Test

Universal had no comment regarding Cinemark’s decision, which could pose a big box-office blow.

It’s not clear yet whether AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment stand on the issue. If other chains take the same stance and boycott the film, Universal could be forced to reconsider the test.

Ratner was not involved in Universal's decision. In April, he was among a number of high-profile directors opposing a 60-day premium VOD test.