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Redstone Cinemas Boycott ‘Tower Heist’ Over Early TV Release

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- National Amusements Inc., the cinema chain controlled by Sumner Redstone, joined other exhibitors in boycotting Universal Pictures’ “Tower Heist” because of the studio’s plan to offer the movie early on pay TV.

“Under Universal’s current plans for the premium video-on-demand release of ‘Tower Heist,’ National Amusements has decided not to play this film,” the Norwood, Massachusetts-based exhibitor, which has more than 950 screens in theaters including Showcase, said today in a statement.

The studio’s plan to test early pay-TV sales of the movie in two markets, Atlanta and Portland, Oregon, has sparked protests from exhibitors concerned they will lose ticket sales. Operators representing more than 12 percent of the estimated 39,000 U.S. screens have announced boycotts of the film, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Cinemark Holdings Inc., the third largest U.S. theater chain with 3,825 screens, said last week it won’t show the movie.

Universal Pictures, controlled by Comcast Corp., announced plans on Oct. 5 to offer “Tower Heist,” featuring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, on pay TV for $59.99, three weeks after its debut in cinemas. The film is scheduled to open Nov. 4.

Closely held National Amusements is part of Redstone family holdings that include controlling interests in Viacom Inc., owner of Paramount Pictures, and CBS Corp.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is the largest U.S. cable-TV service, and acquired control of NBC Universal, parent of Universal Studios, in 2009.

Comcast rose 2.4 percent to $23.54 at 11:23 a.m. New York time. The stock had gained 4.6 percent this year before today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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