Bursting Hollywood's Bubble

Posted by: Sarah Lacy on January 24, 2006

Forgive me for veering from my usual beat here, but as I was driving into work today I heard Steven Soderbergh on NPR’s Fresh Air. I groaned. I’m not the biggest Soderbergh fan. “Erin Brockovich?” Glorified TV movie. “Traffic?” Sorry, it was tedious. “Oceans Twelve?” I turned it off when Julia Roberts character pretended to be the real Julia Roberts in order to pull off a heist, with would-be hilarity ensuing.

This is to say nothing of the unwatchable, failed HBO shows "K Street" and "Unscripted" that he produced. Both of them had this faux-documentary style that relied heavily on improvisation. It didn't work.

So when I heard about his new film "Bubble," which opens this weekend and has all non-actors and also relies on improvisation, let's just say I wasn't itching to get on Fandango and reserve my tickets. But by the time I got to work I'd changed my mind. Not because it sounds good-- the clips played on Fresh Air sounded like a student film at best. But because Soderbergh clearly gets it!

As has been reported, the film will be released simultaneously on TV, DVD and in theatres. As Terri Gross pressed him on how he could financially do this, he simply said: The genie is out of the bottle. People want media in whatever form they want. We should let them have it whatever way they want. (Sorry I’m paraphrasing here. I was in the car, not taking notes.)

And while "Bubble" is a low budget experiment, he said it would even be the case for big budget Hollywood movies, noting that bootlegs of "King Kong" or "Lord of the Rings" were available as soon as it hit theatres anyway.

The amazing thing to me was how matter of fact he was about it. He didn't even see the value in discussing how it would affect the intake for a film, because he just saw it as an inexorable new law of physics in the entertainment industry. Wow.

So, as someone who wants to be able to download TV, music, movies whenever and however I want I'm going to see "Bubble" to support the idea, if not the film. And anyone else who believes in the future of digital media should too.

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Reader Comments

Goyo de la brisa

April 21, 2006 05:09 PM

Sarah Lacy gets it too.

There is an inversion coming - a great change in the industry - the new NickleOdean - and it will hit the majors hard until they change their ways.

I am taking my movie mainstream SOFTWARE rather than mainstream Hollywood.

Distribution by the richest movie distributor in the world - GOOGLE and production by OPEN SOURCE based on software ideas.

Of course the quality is poor compared to a $60Million major, but then early silent movies or TV were trash too, but they grew.

This is the start of something very exciting.

Hey, wanna be in movies? Well, register in an Open Source project and you can.

Cantante y La Actriz

October 28, 2006 08:34 PM

Very well said Sarah.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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