We've been talkinga bit about Steven Soderbergh's Bubble as the first test case of a major filmmaker participating in multi-platform, simultaneous release. Now it looks like Martin Scorsese might beat Soderbergh (for whom Bubble is the first of six films to be produced in concert with HDNet Films) to the punch.

In the space of about a week before its September 26 premiere on PBS, Scorsese's four-hour documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan will get a theatrical release in 30 cities as well as a full DVD release. The theatrical screenings are being handled by Emerging Pictures, in concert with Thirteen/WNET, the New York PBS affiliate, whilst Paramount is shepherding the doc to DVD. I'm generally highly skeptical about simultaneous (or, in this case, near-simultaneous) release gambits, but I think this one has a catch that just might work: the theatrical screenings are going to be free. For awhile now, I've been asking the question: when films are more and more often making most of their money on home entertainment, what's the ancillary? Emerging and friends are skipping straight to the answer by contextualising this theatrical release as, essentially, a commerical for the public TV and (especially) DVD releases. I think it's a great idea. What do you think?