Today is one of those red-letter dates in the history of film. Maybe not quite as momentous as August 6, 1926, when Warner Bros. released the John Barrymore film Don Juan with Vitaphone sound, but still up there. Today, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh will premiere his new film, a small-town murder mystery called Bubble, in theaters. And on television. And it will arrive on DVD in just a few days. By releasing Bubble on their own, without the blessing of the studio dons, entrepreneur Mark Cuban and his partner Todd Wagner have taken the first step towards rattling Hollywood's creaky distribution and exhibition foundation. And this is just the beginning. Most major studios have already committed to collapsing the so-called 'window' between a film's DVD street date and the date you can buy the film on pay-per-view. But if Bubble and its follow-ups do well - Cuban and Wagner's 2929 Entertainment has an entire slate of feature films for 2006 - then the way you watch movies will change forever.

Cuban recently took a few questions from Cinematical about what he's up to with Steven Soderbergh, why the theater business needs to be changed, and what we can expect from 2929 in the near future.

 

Ryan: Two weeks ago, 20th Century Fox signaled their commitment to collapse the DVD-VOD window, bringing us closer to the day when the theater-DVD window will follow. Lots of influential people think its unwise to go down this road, and not just theater owners. M. Night Shyamalan got attention recently for saying that the public views DVDs as "souvenirs" of a memorable theatrical experience. Wearing your film producer hat, do you share the concerns of those who worry about the theatrical experience being diluted by day and date release?

MC: Not at all. As a producer, I want to make it fun and easy to see movies. Movies are 'top of mind' when they are released. The cost to promote a movie has gone through the roof and distributors challenge themselves every day to find better ways. To not maximize revenue when awareness of the movies is highest is moronic.

As a theater owner, I know that I have to make sure my customer has a great time every time out. People go to movies to have fun away from home. You can cook your own meals, but we go to restaurants. We can watch every game on TV, but the worst teams sell 10K-plus tickets in the NBA, NHL and MLB. Theaters have done a terrible job of creating the perception that movies are a great value. People will pay more for a hamburger and fries at Friday's than for a movie and popcorn, and think the hamburger was a better value than a unique film experience. That's called terrible execution and marketing by the theater industry.