Cuban Buys Stake in Carmike Theaters

Internet/media mogul and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has accumulated a 9.4% stake in Carmike Cinemas, the no. 4 U.S. movie chain. Why? Think less Sunday matinée, more 3D NBA All-Star games.

Cuban, reached by email, declined to comment specifically on his investment. But he gave us a clue as to why he is betting roughly $3 million in what's supposed to be a declining industry. (He also co-owns Landmark Theatres with Todd Wagner.) Cuban, via email:

"What I can say is that I think Out of Home entertainment is becoming about far more than movies. HDNet was the first to do a live 3D broadcast to a theater, and we will continuing trying to expand that business, along with 2D out of home. Bits are bits, and just like you can make them smaller, you can make them a lot bigger and more interesting."

What does that mean? Probably more events like the NBA All-Star game, which will be broadcast in 3D to 160 theater screens in the U.S. on Feb. 14, 2009, including some Carmike theaters.

This makes sense. While there's plenty of movies that are nice to watch on a 50-inch HDTV at home, there's still nothing like projecting video on a screen the size of a house. We'd happily pay money and travel to see stuff like "Planet Earth" or some out-of-town concerts/playoff games in a movie theater, for instance. (Especially if there is a bar on premises.)

And while we're at it, how about some more interactive use cases? Maybe a Nintendo Wii bowling competition on a 100-foot screen?

“In addition to professional and college sports in 3-D, there are a growing number of additional special events that we will be bringing in digital and/or 3-D format to the Carmike circuit, including religious programming, concerts and arts-oriented productions such as opera and ballet,” Michael Patrick, CEO of Carmike, said in a press statement on Monday.

By Dan Frommer, Silicon Alley Insider