Brett Ratner has a new blockbuster ensemble comedy coming out called Tower Heist, being led by Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, and in an unprecedented move, The LA Times are saying the film will be available on-demand just three weeks after its November 4th theatrical debut in America.

Funding studio Universal Pictures will reportedly allow the film to become available to half a million of (its parent company) Comcast’s digital cable subscribers in Atlanta and Portland - seemingly as a test for broader future releases. The apparent cost to see the film at home will be just under $60, with the idea that people could split the cost if they really wanted to see it at home. Naturally, the cinema chains in America are not happy with this - most already want the DVD release schedule of movies pushed back - and a major chain, Cinemark, are threatening to boycott the film and not screen it at their theatres if the plan goes ahead.

When a film is legally available to watch at home and still in cinemas, then it is generally also available for illegal download. Meaning, if someone can download the film and pay a fee, what's to stop them burning it online. I'm sure Comcast have thought of this, but the whole thing is far from straight forward - which is probably why their dipping their toe in first. Tower Heist is getting great buzz and is apparently Ratner's best movie.