DirecTV finally copped to what had quickly become the worst kept secret in Hollywood — it's new premium video on demand service.
Under a deal with Sony, Universal, Warner Brothers and Fox, the company will launch its new service on Thursday with Adam Sandler's comedy "Just Go With It," DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer told TheWrap on Tuesday.
"DirecTV is a premium brand and this service is a great fit for our millions of customers," Mercer said. "We are excited to be the first provider. It's something we've talked about for years and now it's a reality."
Other titles getting the premium VOD treatment include “The Adjustment Bureau," “Cedar Rapids” and “Hall Pass," Mercer said. The films will be available at that price point for two weeks and then will be rotated out until their formal release.
The box office hit is being made available to customers two months after it hit theaters, not the standard three that studios have typically waited to release their films.
Mercer brushed off criticism that the high costs would scare off viewers.
"We certainly understand our customers and know what their viewing habits are and buying habits are. The studios have done a considerable amount of research and we believe there is a lot of value in getting this premium service early," Mercer said.
But the cost is substantial, both in terms of the nearly $30 customers must shell out for the 48 hour rentals and with regard to the frayed relationships between studios and theater owners. A National Assn. of Theater Owners spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the group has been fiercely critical of shortening the windows.
Some exhibitors are planning to demand more generous profit sharing arrangements with studios that release titles on premium VOD, while others are poised to pull trailers for films that use the platform, TheWrap previously reported.