Mark Cuban is Against Day-And-Date Releasing?

Got this from the Chicago Tribune...

Cuban smokes IFC (while Comcast plots movie world domination)

A few more intriguing points on this IFC-Comcast deal to debut films in theaters and On Demand simultaneously:

1) Landmark Theatres operates many of the country’s top art multiplexes (including one on the North Side and one in Highland Park), and Mark Cuban, a Landmark owner, warns that the chain may not play the IFC films being debuted simultaneously on Comcast’s On Demand.

"[O]n the IFC thing, they jumped the gun on Landmark support for their efforts," e-mailed Cuban, who also owns the cable network HDNet and Magnolia pictures, which simultaneously launched Steven Soderbergh’s "Bubble" in January. "Comcast doesn’t carry HDNet and HDNet movies, and that’s a requisite for Landmark support of their day-and-date efforts if Comcast is involved."

When told of Cuban’s comments, IFC President Jonathan Sehring said, "Mark Cuban said that?...They’ve told me separately that if the movies work, they’ll play them. I don’t know that we’ve jumped the gun. We’ve had extensive meetings with them. Mark’s Mark. He’ll say what he has to say."

2) Comcast absolutely sees the IFC deal as paving the way for studios big and small to close the windows between when movies are released in theaters and on pay-per-view.

"I think this deal with be the beginning of a move toward day-and-date [releases] generally," said Matt Bond, Comcast’s executive vice president of programming. "The earlier you put a film into release on a particular technology, the more you increase the revenue from that technology."

Certainly, IFC isn’t the only distributor that Comcast is encouraging to release films more promptly on demand.

"We’re in discussions with all the studios about various distribution models related to their products," Bond said.

Which is not to say that all of the studios think day-and-date releases are a good idea. (Most have said they don’t.) But, again, "Walk the Line" has been in theaters just more than two months, and it came out Tuesday on DVD, so studios are narrowing those windows all by themselves.

3) IFC isn’t applying the day-and-date model to its biggest releases.

The company, for instance, picked up the audience-friendly crossword puzzle-solving documentary "Wordplay" at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will give it a "traditional theatrical release," Sehring said.

IFC basically has two labels now: its regular IFC Films (for movies such as "Wordplay" or "My Big Fat Greek Wedding") and IFC in Theaters, generally made up of films too small or low-profile to get distribution through the ever-growing specialized companies.

These are "critically acclaimed movies coming out of film festivals that were going without distribution," Sehring said, and they’re the ones that will premiere simultaneously on Comcast’s On Demand service.

"We just saw this as an opportunity to take some critically acclaimed films that may not play outside the top five markets and create a national art house through this digital technology," he said.

Before the Comcast deal, IFC had worked out a similar arrangement with Cablevision of New York, which simultaneously premiered the IFC in Theaters film "CSA: Confederate States of America" on Feb. 15.

The movie, a Sundance 2004 premiere that envisions the U.S. if the South won the Civil War, rang up strong box-office numbers at its sole New York engagement, grossing more than $17,000 the first weekend with a 2 percent drop for the second weekend.

"We feel strongly that the video-on-demand aspect of this will benefit theatrical moviegoers as well because it will generate word of mouth," Sehring said. "Not everybody has a set-top box."

Not yet, anyway.

Very interesting read. I like where things are headed. And I get Cuban's reasoning behind not playing with Comcast - but I bet he does in the end.


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