Mark Cuban Accepting MoviePass Fits Maverick Role

NEWS ANALYSIS – Billionaire Mark Cuban is as much reality TV showman as digital pioneer, self-help author, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, AXS TV network and Magnolia Pictures, among other hats.

When Cuban talks, people listen. As a celebrity TV judge on “Shark Tank,” contestants are often grateful just to hear Cuban’s input on their entrepreneurial dreams – even if he has no financial interest backing them or advice to offer. Cuban makes no secret his affection for upstart techies looking to disrupt the status quo.

Like movie ticket subscription service MoviePass, which is now offering (for a limited time) daily access to a theatrical screening for a $6.95 monthly fee. The strategy — however fiscally illogical — has irked major theater chains, despite increasing moviegoing foot traffic.

MoviePass is spearheaded by CEO Mitch Lowe, a longtime industry disruptor who cut his teeth helping Netflix and later Redbox reinvent the home video market.

When Cuban agreed to give MoviePass a percentage of ticket sales from his Landmark Theatres chain, it was much more than revenue-sharing from 255 screens across 53 theaters in 27 markets nationwide. It was subtle affirmation without Lowe pitching five “Shark Tank” judges.

“There is no better place to watch a movie than Landmark and now MoviePass customers will be able to enjoy all of our theaters,” Cuban said in a statement.

Landmark, which Cuban co-owns with Todd Wagner, is no stranger to bucking distribution norms. The chain was one of the first to screen (independent) movies concurrent with their release in retail channels.

Cuban infamously blogged in 2005 that consumers should have access to Hollywood movies, “How they want it, when they want it, where they want it.”

Cuban released faith-based drama, The War Within, simultaneously on Landmark screens and HDNet (now AXS TV).

In 2008, he experimented screening a Mavericks game in 3D at a Landmark/Magnolia theater in Dallas.

Last year, Landmark opened the first new theater in midtown Manhattan in 15 years: a 30,000-square-foot complex with eight screens featuring wall-to-wall screens, laser projection and oversized lounge chairs for viewers.

“We are creating a new destination for cinema,” Ted Mundorff, president of Landmark Theatres, said in a statement.

Cuban himself upended conventional wisdom during the dot-com bubble in 1999 selling (with Wagner) upstart Internet-radio platform, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in stock – or reportedly more than $10,000 per subscriber. Cuban shortly sold his Yahoo stock, netting $1 billion at the age of 41.

Yahoo shut down Broadcast.com in 2002. Cuban now markets “three-comma” T-shirts in support of the entrepreneurial spirit – and his fiscal legacy.

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