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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Theatrical `lagniappe'

HDBeat posted an interview with Mark Cuban yesterday, which focuses mostly on his two high-definition cable channels, HDNet and HDNet Movies.

But they also talk a bit about day-and-date release, piracy, and offering "lagniappe" (that's the Cajun term for "a little something extra") to people who come out to see a movie in the theater. Cuban has a lot of ideas, and he's determined to try them out and see what works: what if you offered a free soundtrack download to people who bought a ticket to see a movie in the theater?

Here's the juiciest exchange, from a CinemaTech perspective:

    HDB: The non-traditional release of Steven Soderbergh's recent high-def films in theaters, on DVD and on HDNet simultaneously caused some controversy with the movie industry. What's the thinking behind multi-channel distribution? Was this just a 'test of the waters' or do you think this will become more acceptable within the film industry?

    MC: This is about giving consumers what they want, where and when they want it. If theaters don't like it, that's their problem, not ours. We are working to create incremental value by doing things like offering a free soundtrack download for people who attend "The War Within" at Landmark Theaters. By creating more value for the theater-going experience, we think people who want to get out of the house, will go to a theater. Those who can't will stay home and watch it on HDNet Movies, and those who aren't smart enough (*smiles*) to subscribe to HDNet Movies, can buy it on DVD.

    If you really want to see the studios upset, wait until we release all of our DVDs uncopyprotected and have an option for people to pay a few bucks more and get an AVI, WMV or DivX version they can easily copy on to their laptops, media servers or flash drives to watch the movie where and when they want and have a backup as well.

    I see no reason to treat my customers like criminals.