Steven Soderbergh is one of the busiest directors in the game. He's also one of the hardest to pin down, mixing the big-budget Hollywood films with independents better than almost anybody. This summer he'll bring us Ocean's Thirteen, which the prescence of Al Pacino has moved to my "must-see" list. ("I think we're going out strong," says Soderbergh about the end of the Oceans series. Fingers crossed!) He's also preparing to start shooting back-to-back movies about Che Guevara, with Benicio del Toro starring as the famed revolutionary. And he's talking about the second film in the controversial series he started with Bubble.
You might remember Soderbergh caused quite a stir with theater owners early last year when he unveiled his ultra low-budget Bubble as a simultaneous cinema, DVD and pay TV release. Soderbergh cites Bubble as one of his best filmmaking experiences, and he disagrees with those who consider it a commercial failure. "It's hard to judge how it went because we were never able to expand beyond the Landmark Theatre chain, which is only 50 screens," he says. "We weren't able to open as wide as we wanted because other theatre chains weren't interested in playing the film. The good news is we sold a lot of DVDs." He claims they broke even on the project. "Considering what an odd movie it is, is great. And we've got five more to go. To my mind, it's all just one giant film being made in six segments."
The next segment will also be a day-and-date release across all formats, and will be about "super high-end call girls" in New York, who make upwards of $2000 an hour. (I'm in the wrong business!) Soderbergh is using non-actors for this new project as well. As for alienating theater owners, Soderbergh says "Lord of the Rings went out day-and-date in the US all over the street. It's happening now; it's just underground." There's more with Soderbergh, including lots of interesting talk about digital projection and what it means for the future of cinema here.