Bursting Hollywood's 'Bubble'

By Monica Mehta, AlterNet

Q: A movie you want to see is releasing today in simultaneous formats. Would you rather:

1. See it in your living room, where it will air on pay-per-view cable TV at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.?
2. Go to a theater and see it on a big screen?
3. Wait four days, when it comes out on DVD, and buy and see it then?

Today, the movie industry will have America's answer to this question.

It's the first time a high-profile director will be releasing his film in theaters, on DVD and on cable television simultaneously. And it might mean big changes in the way Hollywood does business over the next decade -- much the way downloaded music has changed the way the music industry operates.

The groundbreaking film in question is called "Bubble," and the director is Steven Soderbergh, who helmed such greats as "sex, lies and videotape," "Traffic," "Erin Brockovich" and "Che." Critics have called the movie "too indie" and "the weirdest goddamn movie ever released by a major American filmmaker," but the plotline seems fairly standard: A love triangle develops between workers at a doll factory in a small Midwestern town. A murder occurs. Mayhem ensues. Soderbergh used mostly nonprofessional actors from the West Virginia and Ohio locales where he shot the film and spent a mere $1.7 million making it. He had no script, instead teaching the actors to improvise scenes based on a screenwriter's outline, and the movie is a mere 73 minutes long.