- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TORONTO — Nicolas Cage may be happy he got to work with Nicole Kidman and reunite with director Joel Schumacher on his new thriller, “Trespass.” But he isn’t thrilled that viewers will be able to watch the movie at home the same day it opens in a handful of theaters.

The story of a family terrorized by home intruders, “Trespass” debuts Friday for a limited theatrical run in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and seven other major markets. It will be available at the same time for home viewing through video on demand.

The DVD and Blu-ray release follow barely two weeks later on Nov. 1, compared with a typical window of about four months between the time most Hollywood films open in theaters and debut on home video.

It’s a business decision that will help “Trespass” distributor Millennium Entertainment, an independent outfit that does not have the big marketing bucks of a Hollywood studio, make the most of its advertising dollars.

Mr. Cage said he understands that, but he wishes the movie could have a separate life on the big screen before it goes to smaller television and computer screens — or even tiny cellphone screens.

“I like movies to be seen the way the director wanted them to be seen, which is on the big screen, with an audience, with their popcorn,” Mr. Cage said in an interview alongside Mr. Schumacher at September’s Toronto International Film Festival, where “Trespass” premiered.

“I want movies to be an event. I want people to get excited about it and go out for the night with their wife or their date, whatever it may be, and have it be an event. I don’t want it to get smaller and smaller and wind up on a cellphone.”

Smaller distributors such as Magnolia Pictures and IFC Films often release films to theaters and video on demand around the same time. Some films can be watched at home ahead of their theatrical release, such as Kirsten Dunst’s “Melancholia,” already available to rent through video services a month before it debuts in U.S. cinemas.

With Academy Award winners Mr. Cage and Miss Kidman, along with director Mr. Schumacher (“Batman Forever,” “A Time to Kill”), “Trespass” arguably is the biggest test yet for simultaneous big-screen and home releases.

Several studios experimented with plans offering video-on-demand rentals of films such as Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It” and Matt Damon’s “The Adjustment Bureau” just 60 days after their theatrical release. Those were expensive rentals — $30 a pop — and the timing was after the films already had done most of their business in theaters.

As another test, Universal Pictures is offering home rentals of the Eddie Murphy-Ben Stiller action comedy “Tower Heist” to viewers in Atlanta and Portland, Ore., just three weeks after its Nov. 4 theatrical release. That one will cost $60 to rent, a hefty price for home viewing but potentially cheaper than movie tickets, popcorn and sodas for an entire family to see it in theaters.

“Trespass” will be available to rent for as little as $6.99 through such sites and services as Amazon.com, Blockbuster and DirecTV. At that price, and because it will play in just 10 theaters, it’s fair to say that most viewers of “Trespass” will end up seeing it at home.

“We’re very encouraged that it will be quite successful,” said David Sobieraj, president of strategic planning and television at Millennium Entertainment. “In this day and age, independents are pretty much consolidating some of the windows on theatrical and home releases. It maximizes the marketing dollars across the board.”

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