Ben Stiller Hosts ‘SNL’ Amidst ‘Tower Heist’ VOD Controversy

Saturday, October 8, 2011
By Kevin Crossman
Ben Stiller on SNL

Ben Stiller on SNL

Ben Stiller is returning to host Saturday Night Live tonight for the first time since 1998. Stiller briefly worked for the show in 1989 as a writer and featured cast member. Tonight, he returns to promote his upcoming film Tower Heist, amidst rumors that his costar Eddie Murphy may make an appearance as well. In advance of the show, NBC has released a promo featuring Jason Sudeikis as well as a retrospective of past SNL appearances (including Stiller’s spot-on impression of Tom Cruise from a 1998 Jeopardy sketch).

Meanwhile, there are rumors that Universal is considering making Tower Heist available on Video-on-Demand services in some markets just three weeks after the theatrical release of the film on November 4th. According to Deadline, the test markets will be Atlanta and Portland, with a VOD purchase price of $59.99. Yes, you heard me… $59.99!

This VOD option is viewed by some theater chains as a threat to their motion picture popcorn selling business. “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 theatres.”

None of this makes any sense to me. First, who is seriously going to buy the movie on VOD for $60? It makes going to see the movie in the theater possibly a less expensive option. Secondly, is this the kind of movie that would be a draw for an in-home experience? I could see this with an event film for a built-in fan base, such as a Harry Potter film, where you might gather friends and family. But Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist? I won’t be buying it, that’s for sure. Meanwhile, do the movie chains really believe people will buy this, or is this fight a way to stop the practice before the inevitable VOD price cuts that actually would sway some buyer?

Best of Ben Stiller


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