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Backers deem ‘Bubble’ a success

Movie marked the first simultaneous theater and DVD release
/ Source: The Associated Press

The independent film “Bubble” was barely a blip at movie theaters this weekend, but its pioneering multi-pronged distribution strategy has created more than its share of buzz.

The film, directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh, is the first of six films to be produced under a partnership between Soderbergh and 2929 Entertainment. Founded by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, the company owns Magnolia Pictures, which distributed “Bubble” in partnership with Landmark Theaters and HDNet Movies, the cable TV channel that aired it twice Friday. On Tuesday, the film arrives on DVD, as well.

The movie took in $70,664 from Friday through Sunday according to box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. The film played on 32 screens, mostly at Landmark and other independent theaters, for a per screen average of $2,208.

Orders for the DVD have been four times “normal expectations” according to a press release Monday from Magnolia Films. The company did not say how many individual DVDs were ordered.

While the film’s box-office performance was modest because major theater chains refused to run it, the film’s backers declared victory for their release strategy.

“We are very happy with the results so far of this first day-and-date release, and while theatrical performance was not as high as we would have liked, it compared favorably to other similar films released this weekend,” Cuban said in a press release.

The film cost $1.6 million to produce, a paltry sum even by independent film standards.

The release stirred controversy because of the high-profile director attached to it and because at least one major media executive suggested the idea might make sense for more mainstream Hollywood fare.

Theater owners attacked the plan, saying theater chains would lose millions of dollars if other studios adopted similar strategies.

The company said it is considering a similar release strategy for nine other films in addition to the ones to be directed by Soderbergh.