I also think TV series' which begin with a theatre feature are too risky for studios. It's a lot of bad exposure when they fail.
I wasn't thinking it would be a wide release but more of a promotional 2-day only release from the CBS Television marketing department. Yes maybe in 30 US states or just the top 25 cities. The Internet will take it from there. It is marketing not a product expected to reach
the possible 300 million Americans.
with the proliferation of digital projection by 2011 that CBS Home video would try something with the pilot in advance like they did with TOS "The Menagerie" in 2007 in cinemas for 2 nights only to paying cinemagoeers.
I seriously doubt they would expect it to make serious money
if only playing say 4 or 6 times at each theater. 2 or 3 times per day over 2 days. It would pay for any digital cinema distribution costs, a small marketing campaign for the 2-day event, and possibly defray some costs of the pilot itself. It would be a marketing choice for advertising the show directly to the fanbase instead of CBS Television or the TV network it eventually ends up on
paying for print, radio, & TV advertising for months.
SOURCE Oct. 2009
7,241 of nearly 39,000 screens in North America are digital