Trailer: Under What Circumstances Would You Pay $59.99 to Watch Tower Heist?

The latest trailer for Tower Heist is out, and not a minute too soon as Universal prepares to undertake Hollywood's most adventurous journey yet on the VOD frontier: Releasing Brett Ratner's comedy to on-demand audiences just three weeks after its Nov. 4 theatrical opening. Exhibitors are pledging boycotts, pundits are wringing their hands, and competing studios are paying extra close attention to how it could all affect them. All of which misses the bottom line for viewers, which is: How much???

Watching Tower Heist on demand in this window will cost you $59.99. Yes. $59.99. The obvious implication here is that Universal is selling to eyeballs, not individuals; the price point assumes that the $59.99 undercuts what the average family would spend to attend Tower Heist in theaters -- including tickets, concession, parking/gas, etc. Nothing's stopping you from pulling the film up for the whole clan after Thanksgiving dinner, or inviting friends over and either splitting the cost or sticking them with the food/drinks bill. At its most radical, Universal's plan shifts the entire social emphasis of moviegoing to the living room, theoretically doing to the cinema what Nintendo, Sony and the video-game industry did to the arcade 20 or so years ago.

While intriguing, the strategy misapprehends the crucial factor: $59.99 is a lot of money. The film is essentially about its target audience -- middle-class, multi-ethnic, law-abiding workers who resort to revenge when a billionaire Manhattan tycoon shafts them into losing their entire savings. Their plot is criminal, but the fantasy of Tower Heist is that it's morally justifiable -- that all the bogeymen of Wall Street and modern industry can and will get their comeuppances. It's an appealing message. So why compromise it by suggesting it's worth five to six times its value three weeks after it's already been in theaters? As best it's a Hollywood lie, at worst it's just another scam.

What do you think? And would you want to see this anyway, on any platform?


  • NP says:

    Nice try, Universal. Not that I wanted to see this flattened turd of a movie anyway, but if I'm going to pay to see any theatrical release on-demand, it's going to be something from IFC, who charges *$9.99*.

  • CiscoMan says:

    As a film purist, of course I say this is stupid. Films are at their best in theaters on big screens. But the purist side of me hasn't seen a film in theaters without interruption from some jackass with an iPhone for quite some time.
    That being said, the price point is way too high for a hypothetical movie I want to see (not Tower Heist) three weeks after it hits theaters. If I can wait three weeks, I can wait three months for the DVD release. It'd have to be simultaneous VOD/theatrical release for me to consider, say, $40 bucks.

  • AS says:

    You would have to pay ME $60 bucks to sit through this tower of shit, and come to think of it, $60 wouldn't be enough. @Ciscoman Try going to matinee's, there's not as many jackass's.

  • Dave Miller says:

    In hell. I'll wait for the DVD, and then decide to watch something else instead, because of this stupid stunt.

  • Becky says:

    I have no desire to see this film, even for $11. The price point is still too high -- at $11 for a night show, you have to bring six people to break even and then you're still sitting on your couch three weeks later. Might as well wait a few more weeks and see it on Pay per View for $6.

  • Amber says:

    This is bizarre, because a $60 price tag is making it seem super cheap to go to the theater. Why would anyone pay that much money to watch it on their own TV? Going to the movies is expensive for sure, but it has never been $60 expensive to me. Plus if I'm excited enough to see a film when it's first released, that usually means I WANT to see it in a real movie theater on a big screen, and not on my crappy television where I have to keep the sound low to keep from disturbing the neighbors. And to be willing to pay movie theater prices, I have to really, really want to see a specific movie desperately, and even then I'm only paying matinee prices and will only go weeks after it's been released to avoid crowds, and I'm sneaking in my own candy. Going to the movies is something I tend to only be willing to pay to do a few times a year. If I'm not totally excited to see a movie in an actual theater on the big screen, then I'm perfectly content waiting 4 months or whatever to pay a dollar to see it from Redbox.

  • The Toastman says:

    I think most of the other commenters are missing the point here. First, regarding the price point, clearly this is aimed at providing a group home-viewing experience. While $60 is certainly more than an single individual would be willing to pay, it IS undercutting the cost for three or four people to pay for tickets and concessions (not to mention gas), and provides a viewing in a controlled environment. As for timing, the theaters would never stand for a simultaneous release, so they probably figured three weeks still gives theaters the head-start, but is close enough that impatient people who don't want to wait three months may be willing to wait the much shorter three weeks. And as for the choice of film, it actually seems very carefully calculated: a film with enough big names to have broad appeal (i.e. it isn't a niche movie), but at the same time isn't a film expected to be a mega-blockbuster either, so perhaps the studio was hoping that theater owners would be less concerned about lost business from a movie they don't expect to make much on to begin with.