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Setting Up for Superrelease?

10 Oct, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

Entrepreneurs Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner have been promising the “superrelease” of films — theatrically, on cable TV and on DVD simultaneously — since April. So far, DVD has been the missing link.

That may end soon, as the pair — who own Landmark Theaters, the HDNet Movies channel, Rysher Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures Distribution, 2929 Entertainment and even a piece of Lions Gate Films — appear poised to launch their own DVD imprint.

Wagner would neither confirm nor deny a pending launch, but he did confirm that the company plans to pay theatrical exhibitors 1 percent of revenue generated from DVD sales of films they offer in the same window at their theaters.

On the other hand, his Magnolia Pictures is hiring a DVD accountant, whose responsibilities include monitoring inventory levels and working with DVD replicators “to ensure sufficient supplies are available for replenishment,” and setting up electronic data interchanges (EDIs) with vendors and customers. An EDI is a secure electronic transaction.

The DVD label is expected to launch in January when Bubble, the first film made under a six-picture superrelease deal with director Steven Soderbergh, hits theaters.

“All our ducks will be in a row by then,” Wagner said.

Although the mainstream press has reported that Magnolia's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room was released simultaneously on TV, DVD and in theaters, the film has yet to be released on DVD. It is an Oscar contender in the feature-length documentary category for this year, but the entrepreneurs had to release it in a limited theatrical run before the April 22 airing on HDNet to comply with Motion Picture Academy rules. A film vying for an Oscar must play at a minimum of 25 commercial public exhibitions for at least two consecutive days in at least 15 states — including a week's run in the Los Angeles and New York markets — before appearing online or on TV. Otherwise, it is not eligible to compete.

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