Ushers in a new distribution model

The storyline of Bubble, the latest feature from Steven Soderbergh, is nothing new: it is a simple tale of how mundane lives can change in an instant. But just days after its release Friday at select Landmark Cinemas in 4K on Sony SXRD projectors, the art-house film will buck traditional distribution norms and be released on DVD and appear on cable TV.
Bubble received its first 4K screening last September at the Venice Film Festival. Sony began shipping the SXRD 4K projector the following month, installing it in Landmark Theatres in major U.S. cities, including the Sunshine Cinema, in Manhattan. Bubble features non-professional actors plucked from the Ohio and West Virginia towns in which it was filmed and has an antiseptic stillness that, on the large screen, is sometimes hard to watch. Soderbergh’s controlled HDCAM camera moves, heightened lighting and bleak locations, however, grow compelling by film’s end, thanks in part to the clarity of the 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution of Sony’s SXRD 4K projector.
Soderbergh and partner 2929 Entertainment have agreed to distribute five more movies in simultaneous theatrical, cable and DVD release. 2929 Entertainment owners Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban also own the Landmark Theatres and the cable channel HDNet, where the movie will appear. This fact has theater owners and other industry watchers crying foul. Wagner and Cuban contend that, far from developing a monopoly, they are playing fair and will be sharing one percent of the DVD profits with non-Landmark theaters that show Bubble.
Check for the interview with Steven Soderbergh at Film & Video February 1.