Posted at 5:41 PM on January 26, 2006
by Euan Kerr
I was chatting with Chris Hewitt at the Pioneer Press the other day for the story I did on "Bubble," the new Steven Soderbergh movie that has theater owners in a tizzy.
After we talked about the ins and outs of the having the film released on DVD and cable at the same time as it's in the theaters, we turned to how what seems like a very slight movie has stuck with us both in the couple of weeks since the press screening.
"Bubble" is a murder mystery set in a small midwestern town, where the central characters all work at a dollmaking factory. All the actors are amateurs, and to be honest I had worked out what was likely to happen within the first few minutes.
But the film works because Soderbergh holds the camera on the faces and places of the story so you can really study them. It slows the pace of the film, but there is always something going on in people's faces. It's a fine line between consideration and pretension, but Soderbergh keeps it right.
There are also the fascinating shots of the doll making machines too. Who knew they made such satisfying popping sounds when someone pulls out a molded head?
"Bubble" is probably the right sort of film to try this little experiment with. Despite Soderbergh's direction his smaller movies do not garner a big audience and the folks who will pay to see "Bubble" in the theatre would pay for it regardless. This still allows the DVD crowd to rent or buy the movie on a whim, and gives a cheaper cable night movie.
I don't see this working with a big budget movie, though. Just for the movies that need to find an audience badly. "Junebug" perhaps. Maybe documentaries. "Why We Fight" would be a good choice right now. I may not get the chance to see it in the theatre, but give me another option and I could possibly see it.
I think you are right. I talked to one film maker who said she thought this multiple media release was all just a matter of time.
The truth of course is that the movie business is now dependant on the DVD and TV sales money to break even or make a profit on all but a tiny percentage of movies released every year.
We already see multiple DVD releases of individual films, so I bet we may well see a "no extras" release at the same time as a theatrical release for most movies soon, followed a few weeks later by a release with the extras.