It’s no secret that Hollywood wants you to pay more to watch their movies. You might recall that Paramount recently tested selling $50 tickets to “World War Z” in select theaters, giving buyers the chance to see the movie two days early, and walk away with a bunch of swag including a digital download of the film. And though Universal‘s plan to make “Tower Heist” available on premium VOD three weeks after release for the bargain price of $59.99 was kiboshed after Cinemark threatened to boycott the movie, overseas studio are testing those waters. Variety recently reported that in South Korea, Disney and Sony have put movies online or on VOD between three and five weeks after theatrical release, with “Django Unchained,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Brave,” among the titles testing the waters. And now rumors of that approach coming stateside are cropping up again.
According to THR, word is kicking around that Universal is considering releasing “Fifty Shades Of Grey” on VOD and in theaters at the same time. Why? Well, the thinking here is to give audience members who were too embarrassed to be seen with the actual book in their possession a chance to see the movie without having to get their rocks off in public. Or maybe for those couples who want to act out the movie at the same time, without those armrests and sticky floors getting in the way.
It’s an intriguing prospect (though a Universal rep says “there have been absolutely no talks at this point about the possibility of VOD”) and it makes sense in theory. But we can’t imagine theater owners are going to go for this, and will push back against any plan of this nature, particularly one that revolves around a movie based on one of the biggest cultural phenomenons in recent memory. While millions made it clear they love trashy erotica, will they pay premium prices to see the movie version at home? Would you?
At any rate, it adds another fever pitch to a movie that the studio wants you to believe is going to raise the cinematic temperature considerably, but we’ll see if you’ll get the option to cool off in the comfort of your own home, or if you’ll have to experience it with everyone else at a theater near you. Update: Universal has slated the film for a AUGUST 1st, 2014 release according to a press release.