Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mark Cuban is annoying. Even worse, he could be right.

Mark Cuban, the guy who turned into a personal fortune that basically lets him do whatever the hell he wants, can be awfully annoying. The gaudy home, the smirk, the Jobs-ian devotion to a wardrobe that seems to consist of nothing but jeans and polo shirts.

That said, one still has to admire his complete lack of concern about who he pisses off. He has authored a remarkably blunt blog since he bought the Dallas Mavericks, he's been escorted out of arenas for berating officials and now he's about to blow up the Hollywood distribution model. Just as soon, of course, as he produces some movies.

Basically, his plan is to release movies in all mediums at the same time — theaters, DVDs and pay-per-view. No more big buildup to a movie theater premiere. There are plenty of others in Hollywood who have mused about this in the past, but they worried about losing their relationships with movie theaters. Cuban owns a movie theater chain and, of course, doesn't really give a damn. One of the many, many advantages of being a billionaire.

They cover the story and Cuban's thinking pretty well over at Boing Boing.

I appreciate this idea. Let people choose how and where they see something, but don't dictate when they see it. When I was younger and without a two-year-old, I went to the cinema a whole lot more. Fact is, there is still nothing like the movie theater experience. I'd like to go more than I do now, but it's just not in the cards. I do, however, have a pretty nice home theater system and I'd like to be able to talk about current movies with people who don't have two-year-olds. Instead, I have to fake that I know the movie based on reading a review in The New Yorker.

So there's the new media business side of my brain that likes the idea. Trouble is, there's also this little part of my heart that worries we're stripping away yet another communal experience — the movie premiere — that's a part of our social fabric. Packing a theater on the first day of a movie, waiting in line for concert tickets, half the nation watching the same TV show — I'm afraid these group gatherings are fading quickly. And I worry, even as I relish the thought of listening to a Garrison Keillor podcast while driving north at 1 AM, that it's not necessarily a good thing.

I am, however, just one man. And media distribution is blowing up with or without me.


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