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Friday, January 27, 2006
No "Bubble" for Portland?
Steven Soderbergh's experimental film "Bubble" opened in theaters around the country today but will it be playing on screens here in Portland? Apparently...
"Bubble" has had a good amount of controversy heaped on it over director Soderbergh's ("Traffic," "Ocean's 11") decision to release it almost simultaneously in theaters, on DVD and pay-per-view. Theater owners nationwide are outraged and unwilling to screen it in many cities for obvious reasons. If the film is a success, more film companies might do the same with future releases, meaning less $ for them.
While "Bubble" is earning favorable reviews, the cast consists entirely of unknowns, the budget was minimal and the plot, which concerns the dreary lives of factory workers, isn't likely to inspire any long lines at US multiplexes. Films like this are usually released on only a handful screens nationwide during their first week as their distribution company watches to see how many tickets it sells and if its worth putting on screens in other cities. "Bubble'"s simultaneous release seems like more of a publicity stunt to draw attention to one of Soderbergh's indie projects than an earnest attempt to change the movie business as we now know it.
Still, it's a shame that "Bubble" didn't land on at least one screen here in Portland, especially since it's screening in Tucson, Arizona of all places. If Regal Cinemas, which operates most of the chain theaters in town, wasn't willing to screen the film here, why didn't a locally-owned movie house like Cinema 21 or the Clinton Street Theater step up to the plate? Neither theater currently has the movie listed on their online schedules. Maybe they too aren't screening the film for the same reasons that Regal wouldn't go near it. If Portland moviegoers want to see "Bubble" on the big screen, the nearest screen showing it is at the Metro Cinemas in Seattle.
As for pay-per-view, Comcast Cable apparently has no plans to air the film on pay-per-view anywhere in its Oregon market. It also isn't scheduled to appear on the cable company's In-Demand service. "Bubble" may be available in Portland video stores when it's released on DVD this Tuesday, January 31st. The film will also available on Netflix.
A measly one out of three? C'mon Portland, you're a movie-going town. You can do better. Don't you want to be apart of film history?