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?