National Amusements Inc., the Norwood, Mass.-based theater chain, has joined other exhibitors in vowing not play Universal Pictures' "Tower Heist."
National Amusements, which operates more than 950 movie screens in the U.S., Britain and Latin America, said in a statement Wednesday that it would not screen the Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy comedy in protest over Universal's controversial plans to make the movie available via video-on-demand three weeks after its release in theaters.
"Under Universal's current plans for the premium video-on-demand release of 'Tower Heist, National Amusements has decided not to play this film in its theatres,'' National Amusements said in a statement.
Universal recently said it would make “Tower Heist,“ which opens in theaters Nov. 4, available to about 500,000 homes in two markets, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., for $59.99 via video-on-demand.
Already, however, several exhibitors, including giant Texas-based Cinemark USA and smaller chains such as Regency Theatres of Calabasas and Sherman Oaks-based Galaxy Theatres have vowed not to play the movie. Theater owners are concerned that showing movies in the home so soon after they debut in theaters will discourage consumers from buying movie tickets.
Based in Norwood, Mass., National Amusements is a closely held company operating under the third generation of leadership by the Redstone family. National Amusements is also an equal partner in the online ticketing service, MovieTickets.com, and is the parent company of Viacom and CBS Corp.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in "Tower Heist." Credit: David Lee / Universal Pictures