Universal drops plan for early VOD release of 'Tower Heist' in face of theater boycott

Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) Universal Pictures, facing a boycott by movie chain operators, has cancelled its plan to offer consumers in Portland, Ore. and Atlanta access at home to Tower Heist just three weeks after it debuted in theaters.

The studio had planned the limited premium VOD, priced at $60 for home viewing, as a way to test alternative distribution methods as Hollywood continues to struggle for ways to replace revenue lost as consumers turn to renting movies instead of buying them.

National Amusements Inc. and Cinemark Holdings, two of the nation's largest movies chains, had threatened to ban Tower Heist, which stars Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, from all of their locations if Universal carried through with its plans.

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) has been floating a plan to offer its subscribers a premium movie package for $20 or $30 a month that would give them select titles within 30 days of release, but it hasn't announced details of the proposed service.

DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) does have a similar plan for its subscribers, Home Premiere, for $30 a that gives them some movies within 60 days of their theatrical release for $30 a month.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article

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