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Magnolia

THE SKINNY
B.O. cume: $10 million
Topper: Eamonn Bowles, president; Tom Quinn, head of acquisitions
New Releases: “Jesus Camp” (Sept. 22), “Cocaine Cowboys” (October), “The Architect” (Dec. 1)

New indie distribs started out the year with more buzz than Magnolia Pictures. In January, the distribution arm of Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment inaugurated its simultaneous release of Steven Soderbergh’s working-class portrait “Bubble” in theaters, on DVD and Cuban’s HDNet channel. Every media outlet from CNN to the Wall Street Journal to USA Today covered the window-collapsing story like it was the second coming of D.W. Griffith. But the “Bubble” event deflated soon after it began: The film grossed just $145,000 and suffered slow DVD sell-through, despite company claims that the film raked in $5 million across all media.

Whatever “Bubble’s” final tally may be, the company’s more traditional late-2005 Oscar push for “The World’s Fastest Indian” saw that pic garner $5 million-plus in theatrical grosses. Magnolia also saw a modest hit in French action pic “District B13” ($1.2 million) and helped bring Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City” to a $2.5 million cume.

Despite HDNet Films’ theatrical misfires (“The War Within,” “Herbie Hancock: Possibilities,” “One Last Thing”), Magnolia prexy (and garage band rocker) Eamonn Bowles and his team are shrewd buyers, having acquired Korean Cannes sensation “The Host,” British horror-comedy “Severance” and much-talked-about docus “Jesus Camp” and “Cocaine Cowboys.”

The launch of Magnolia Home Entertainment also bolsters the company’s ancillary profitmaking — “World’s Fastest Indian” sold moret than half a million units.

And with new-technology pioneers Cuban and Wagner continuing to push the media envelope (they were among the first companies to distribute HD DVDs), Magnolia won’t be wilting anytime soon.

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