How did Bubble, Steven Soderbergh’s much-touted experiment in releasing a movie to theaters, cable, and DVD at the same time, actually fare in the marketplace? Depends on who you ask. Theater owners, who saw the film as a threat to their ever-shrinking window of exclusivity, gloated that Bubble‘s opening weekend gross was limited to about $71,000 on 32 screens. (See this Hollywood Reporter article headlined, ”Theater owners thrilled about burst Bubble.”) Bubble‘s backers, including billionaire Mark Cuban, acknowledged that the film could have done better in theaters but said DVD sales were four times ”normal expectations.” (See this Associated Press article headlined, ”Bubble release deemed success by backers.”)
Does Bubble prove anything pro or con regarding simultaneous multi-platform distribution? One could argue that such distribution won’t see a true test until it’s tried on a major studio release with big stars, not a low-budget indie starring amateur actors. On the other hand, if the DVD numbers really are robust, they counter the conventional wisdom that you need the word of mouth from a theatrical run to drive home video sales.
PopWatchers, do you think Bubble is just a historical blip or the wave of the future?