Todd Wagner and Mark Cubanhave taken a step closer to their cross-platform day-and-date releasing visionas it emerged that the 2929 Entertainment founders have signed a mould-breaking six-picturedeal with the ever-adventurous Steven Soderbergh.
Soderbergh will directthese low-budget high definition video features for 2929's HDNet Films bannerin a deal finalised at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, with each titleset to launch simultaneously in theatres, on TV and DVD.
Soderberghwill have creative control over content on each of the 1080i high-definitionprojects, and is currently in production on the first title Bubble, a murder mystery set in a small town in Ohio with acast comprised entirely of unknown locals with no prior acting experience.
Otherprojects and the release date for Bubble will be announced shortly.
The cross-platform releasepattern will see projects handled almost exclusively within the 2929 corporatestructure.
Magnolia Pictures, 2929'sdomestic distribution label, will handle US rights and release the filmsinitially through Cuban and Wagner's digitally-equipped Landmark Theatre chain.TV audiences will be able to watch at the same time on HDNet Movies, their UShigh definition film channel.
2929is presently negotiating home video arrangements and also finalising plans fordistribution outside the US.
Soderbergh already has arelationship with 2929 through Section 8, the production company he spearheadswith George Clooney. 2929 International, headed by Shebnem Askin, is handlingoverseas sales on Good Night And Good Luck, the McCarthy era drama that Clooney is directing and starring in.Soderbergh, Wagner and Cuban are among that film's roster of executiveproducers.
"Given his prolific creativity andexpertise for directing quality projects, Steven Soderbergh is the idealpartner to begin this venture," Wagner said in a statement.
"Froma consumer standpoint, it's about choice. We're letting people decide, for thefirst time, if they want to go out or stay home when a movie debuts. Wespecifically want to reward HDNet Movies subscribers with great, innovativefilms they can't see anywhere else on TV."
"I'mexcited to work with Todd and Mark and appreciate the freedom to createindependent films under this new distribution model," Soderbergh added.
"All of us see consumerchoice driving the future of the movie industry, and this is a giant leap inthat direction."
This is not the first timethat Soderbergh has dabbled in low-budget filmmaking. In between his majorHollywood productions he has squeezed in free-form, largely improvisational filmssuch as Schizopolis for IFC and FullFrontal, a $2m DV film shot forMiramax.