The movie business is changing rapidly these days. Case in point, this week's release of "Bubble",
directed by Steven Soderbergh and produced by Mark Cuban. The movie was released virtually simultaneously in the Theatres, on DVD, and on TV- In 39 theatres across the country (many of which are Landmark, owned by Cuban) in digital projection only; on TV via Cuban's HDNet premium HD station, and on DVD four days after launch. It's Cuban's assertion that the movie business is like other mediums of entertainment, such as seeing a Mav's game - you don't stay home from a basketball game because you can watch it on TV, you decide which one you want regardless. People who like movies in theatres will pay to see them there for the experience, regardless of if the DVD is available. Others who were going to wait to get it on video anyway (because of cost, or preference) now don't have to wait, and are triggered to see it while the hype is around. And maybe people who see the movie might want to take a copy home to study it more closely; that will now be an opportunity afforded them.
His strategy has met mixed reviews within and outside the industry. Many theaters refused to air "Bubble" because of the release strategy, claiming that it is a devastating move for the industry as a whole. Some people think its a bold experiment that is better
suited for a bigger name movie. Cuban thinks it's about time the industry stepped up and recognized that the problem is within itself, and expects that moves like this could resurrect the business as a whole.
Vongo is the new broadband movie service by
Starz. Think NetFlix without the mail. $10 a month gets you unlimited movie downloads, viewable on up to 3 computers (including portable movie players (PMP's)), and streaming access to the Starz movie channel. There are pay per view options also, for extra money. Movies are downloaded in high quality, and can be watched only a minute or two after the download begins, while it finishes in the background. Currently there isn't the selection of mail order services, but title lists are growing, and the quality, convenience, and ease could easily be worth it. I haven't
tried yet, but plan on it- services like this could help to end pirating, since it ultimately gives people what they want - access to content when and where they want it. If this was HBO, and I could watch Sopranos etc., I'd be signed up in a second.