While not on the level of Titanic, Turner Home
Entertainment's World Championship Wrestling is pitching to cable operators a
first-ever theatrical movie premiere on pay-per-view.
The movie, The Real Reasons (Men Commit Crimes), is
being billed as a "romantic comedy," and it stars popular WCW wrestler Sting,
a.k.a. Steve Borden, said Jay Hassman, director of PPV for WCW. Eric Bischoff, senior vice
president and executive producer of WCW, is executive producer of the film, which Turner
hopes to premiere June 8.
Unlike typical $2.99 and $3.99 prices for studio films,
Turner is suggesting a $5.95 retail price for the movie, Hassman said. Turner is also
hoping to secure about 10 runs of the movie prior to its theatrical release.
Turner will heavily market the movie via its syndicated Monday
Night Nitro and Thursday Thunder shows, Hassman said.
For years, PPV executives have asked studios for the
opportunity to premiere major movies prior to their theatrical release. Operators said
one-time showings on PPV would not only net studios incremental revenue, but they would
also push marketing for the movie's theatrical and home-video releases.
But studios have nixed the idea, arguing that the
industry's high incidence of piracy, the lack of anti-taping technology and low
addressable penetration rates would jeopardize movies' future earnings potential.
Hassman, however, said Turner is willing to take the risk
and premiere the movie via PPV. "We're trying to support the cable operators and
provide a service that operators have been asking the studios to offer," he said.
Debbie Barackman, vice president of programming for Request
Television, is excited about the prospect. "Right now, any special event is good for
the industry, because of the lack of events on the schedule," Barackman said.
"We're looking forward to doing it; it's a very exciting concept."