Being Mark Cuban means living in the blogosphere 8 hours a day. "Most of that time is spent reading and writing e-mail," he says. "I do all my managing that way. I'm not a meetings guy, so everybody knows if there's a question, do e-mail. That way, I can respond immediately. I've gotten recent e-mails with replies going back to 1989. They give me documentation."
He does daily blog searches from IceRocket.com on topics that concern his businesses. "Someone made a comment about a change we made in our discount cards at Landmark Theaters [Cuban owns the 58-theater art-house chain]. I caught it right before it became a big issue and we fixed it the same day."
Cuban also writes his own blog (blogmaverick.com), a shoot-from-the-hip page where he's praised Disney chairman Bob Iger for "saving network TV," by providing Apple's iTunes store with episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives for video iPods, and admonished music and movie trade groups for claiming that every song or movie downloaded illegally equals a lost sale. "I'm not a big believer that piracy is costing all this money," he says. "But at the same time, conceivably, if you can buy it, you don't have to steal it."
Considering all the movies he finances, Cuban would seem to be at odds with his own industry. Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) recently told a gathering of theater operators that opting for "day and date" - industry shorthand for releasing movies simultaneously in theaters, on cable and satellite TV, and on DVD - would kill movie theaters. "He doesn't know what he's talking about," retorts Cuban.
Since most movies have separate ad campaigns for their theatrical and DVD releases, Cuban thinks day and date will actually make films more profitable since they'll only have to be marketed once. And he says there's no reason to think this approach will hurt theater attendance. "People still want to get out of the house. Every single Mavericks game is on TV, and we have a sell-out streak. There's actually research that says, the more your games are on TV, the better attendance will be. That's because people get into it more. You're not going to not go to the theaters because you watch DVDs. You'd get cabin fever."
Nobody is better positioned to test day and date than Cuban. He and business partner Todd Wagner are using their DVD label Magnolia Home Entertainment, the Landmark Theaters, and HDNet Movies to challenge the way Hollywood releases movies. Their first day-and-date film, Bubble, was slated to debut January 27.
Cuban is also big on digital cinema and is replacing film projectors in his theaters with digital ones. "Bubble will premiere digitally in 14 markets to start with," he says, adding, "That movie won't touch film." Instead of being delivered in film cans, it'll arrive on hard drive. "The UPS truck is 23 megabits per second," he quips.
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