Steven Soderbergh's new film, Bubble, is the source of much hand-wringing in Hollywood. But what has entertainment executives agitated isn't the film's story — about a murderous love triangle at a doll factory — but the way it's being released. Terry Gross speaks with Jonathan Bing, who writes the "Hard Sell" column for Variety magazine.
The method of simultaneous release is known as a "day-and-date" strategy. It clashes with the prevailing method of timed releases, in which more than four months usually separate a film's theatrical debut and its DVD sale. It is only after sales have ebbed in those two critical markets that most movies are broadcast on television.
The day-and-date approach for Bubble will be duplicated for five other films by Soderbergh, who has entered into a partnership with Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban. Cuban, the outspoken Internet billionaire who also owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, is using his network of art-house theaters and digital television to
In collapsing the months-long release window into a matter of days, Cuban says consumers will have more choice in how content is delivered, which may result in higher overall sales. In answering critics who have decried the day-and-date approach as the death knell of the theater experience, Cuban has compared the approach to the NBA, in which sold-out games are also aired live on television.
A 'Bubble' of Synergy
Director Steven Soderbergh's new movie is being shown at Cuban's Landmark chain of theaters, even as it is broadcast on the HDNet cable service. Many of the country's largest theater chains have refused to screen the film. A look at the companies involved in the film — and its experimental release:
Produced by 2929 Entertainment (owned by Mark Cuban and longtime ally Todd Wagner)
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures (founded in 2001 by film and radio veterans Bill Banowsky and Eamonn Bowles; owned by 2929 Entertainment)
Opens Jan. 27 in Landmark Theaters (began in 1974; bought by 2929 Entertainment in 2003)
On Cable TV
Jan. 27 - Airs on HDNet (founded in 2001 by Cuban and TV executive Philip Garvin)
HDNet is available from cable companies including Adelphia, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, DIRECTV and the DISH Network.