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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mark Cuban, Magnolia Pictures, and DVD Distribution

I'd take the question mark off this headline from Wired News: Cuban to Launch DVD Label?

Having talked with Mark Cuban and his partner Todd Wagner a couple times in the past few months, this seems like an obvious step. Last week, when I sat down with Cuban at the Web 2.0 conference, he riffed on the idea of distributing DVDs to Wal-Mart or Target on the day they're released in theaters, and sending movie stars - he mentioned Cynthia Nixon of "Sex and the City," who's starring in the forthcoming "One Last Thing..." - to the stores to create a movie premiere atmosphere. To fully control that sort of distribution scenario - and to wring maximum profits from it - they'd naturally want to own the distribution company.

Holly J. Wagner (no relation to Todd Wagner, I presume) writes:

    Mark Cuban is hiring staff that could form the nucleus of a new DVD label, Wired News has learned, a move that comes as the dot-com billionaire attempts to shatter Hollywood's release window system by making first-run films available simultaneously in theaters, on cable TV, online and on DVD.

She cites an online job posting that Magnolia Pictures, part of the Wagner/Cuban family of companies, is trying to hire a Senior DVD accountant whose responsibilities would include "monitoring inventory levels, working with DVD replicators `to ensure sufficient supplies are available for replenishment,' and setting up electronic data interchanges, or EDIs, with vendors and customers."

Wagner (the writer) also references a bit of simultaneous release history I didn't know about. Cuban and Wagner plan to release the Steven Soderbergh movie "Bubble" in January in theaters, on TV, and on DVD (possibly also online, through Cinemanow)... but they won't be the first:

    The only film known to have debuted on TV, DVD and in theaters the same day so far is Noel, a holiday movie starring Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz and Robin Williams in an uncredited role. The film was released last November on cable's TNT, in a handful of theaters and on disc the same day. But the disc was a Flexplay disc that expired in 48 hours, and it was only available on Neither side will comment but sales were reportedly low, some in the industry say a mere 1,500 copies. The title eventually found distribution under the Screen Media imprint. Screen Media has a distribution deal with Universal Studios Home Entertainment that will put the title in stores on standard DVD for the first time Oct. 25.