There’s a fascinating back-and-forth going on over at Caveh Zahedi’s blog over an unusual development that’s occurred just days before the release of Zahedi’s feature I am a Sex Addict. The film has been caught in the middle of corporate politics involving IFC (the film’s distributor), Comcast (its video-on-demand supplier), HDNet (Mark Cuban’s production and distribution company), and Landmark Theaters (the theater chain also owned by Cuban).
It starts with Zahedi explaining the situation:
I got a phone call today from IFC. Apparently, Mr. Mark Cuban (the very wealthy owner of the Dallas Mavericks) has decided to pull our movie from the Landmark Theater chain (which he owns) because his TV station, HDNET, wasn’t able to get on Comcast (which is airing the film as a Video-on-Demand title starting this Wednesday). The film was set to open this Friday at a Landmark Theater in Berkeley. Postcards have been made and sent out. Posters have been put up. Articles have been written. But he has decided to nix our screening (on a whim?). People are going to show up to the theater, and will be told: “Sorry, Mr. Mark Cuban decided he didn’t want this particular film playing at his movie theater, because IFC Films is distributing it, and they have a video-on-demand deal with Comcast, which hasn’t been very nice to him.”
Below in the comments section is, surprisingly, Mark Cuban’s direct reply to Zahedi, a reply that starts by referencing this posting at Cinematical over three weeks ago. An excerpt:
IFC has teamed up with Comcast, to offer each title in homes nationwide. This brings us back to Mark Cuban: rumors are going around that Cuban is banning the First Take films from his Landmark Theaters, in retaliation at Comcast for refusing to carry the two HD Nets. (I’ve heard all kinds of confirmations and denials on this – if Mark is reading this, I’m sure he’ll step in and say what’s what).
Then Cuban goes on to essentially confirm in the posting his hardball tactics regarding IFC and Comcast:
Our mistake at Landmark for not communicating the position to all of our buyers. So IFC realized this and booked the films anyway.
Once I saw American Gun was in theaters, i realized what had happnd and stopped it.
Of course what wasnt said was that Landmark Theaters are the only theaters happy to book day n date releases. its not like you turned down other screens for ours.
IFC knows this very well as well. Otherwise they just would have taken them elsewhere.
Tell IFC not to show them on Comcast and we are happy to play the movies.
Im sorry that you got caught in the crossfire, but IFC wasnt caught by suprise by this.
I apologize that there was disorganization on our side that let it get this far.
hopefully IFC will just pull the movies from Comcast and it can all get worked out.
Im guessing the theatrical release is the key to you and not Comcast VOD.
And then he posts his email.
Somehow, I have a feeling this will be bouncing around the indie-film blogosphere for the next few days.