Can superhero parodies rescue the porn business?

Parodies of Superman, Spider-Man become stars of hard-core films as porn biz seeks revenue

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- We all know he can leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel in his bare hands. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that during a time of crisis even the porn industry turns to Superman.

The same week in June that Warner Bros. released the Superman blockbuster "Man of Steel," Vivid Entertainment Group put out its own superhero flick, "Man of Steel XXX: A Porn Parody."

Although it's safe to assume that "Steel XXX" didn't quite match the $116.6 million opening weekend of the Warner Bros. hit, if it performs anything like 2010's "Batman XXX: A Porn Parody," it will become the most-rented and highest-selling porn video of the year. At a cost of more than $100,000, it will also be one of the most expensive porn movies made.

Parodies, once a cheaply filmed niche segment of the adult movie market, are big business these days — filled with expensive special effects, real story lines, actors who can (sometimes) actually act and costumes that even comic-book geeks find authentic.

The movies may also help save an industry looking to rebound from years of Internet piracy, illegal downloads and amateur videos that have caused a serious financial hit, said Mark Kernes, senior editor at Adult Video News. The business has gone from annual revenues of as much as $12 billion a few years ago to about $7 billion today.

"We certainly do have a problem with piracy ... and sadly no one seems to be able to do anything about it," said Kernes.

But now Superman is coming to the rescue, along with Batman, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

All four have taken star turns in full-length, slickly produced films that include hard-core crime fighting and, well, other hard-core scenes — although milder versions were made of some of the same films.

Neither the makers of the mainstream movies nor comic book writer and Iron Man creator Stan Lee wanted to comment. A person who answered the phone at Lee's office said he doubted Lee had heard of the parodies, and then hung up. Lee, himself, didn't respond to an email.

Marvel Comics also did not respond to requests for comment. Warner Bros.' DC Entertainment Division, which makes the Superman and Batman films, had no comment, said spokeswoman Courtney Simmons.

Since the trend toward superhero parodies began three years ago, no porn company making them has been sued. For years the courts have ruled that parodies, like other forms of speech, are protected by the First Amendment.

"Mainstream porn, from a copyright protection, from a First Amendment protection, is essentially the same as any other form of written expression," said entertainment lawyer David Ginsburg, who is executive director of the UCLA School of Law's entertainment, media and intellectual property law program.

"The rules of parody apply as equally to porn as they do to any other form of parody, like 'Saturday Night Live' or Mad Magazine," he said.

The porn parody superhero revolution seems to have begun in earnest around 2010, when veteran adult film director Axel Braun, who boasts of having a collection of DC and Marvel comics dating to his childhood, brought his "Batman XXX" film to Vivid Entertainment Group.

The company's chief executive, Steven Hirsch, initially wasn't that impressed. But when the film became the biggest-selling and renting video of the year, Hirsch said, he quickly realized there was a core demographic his business was overlooking: comic-book geeks.

Soon Vivid was cranking out four to six of the movies a year, timing their release to whenever the mainstream films hit theaters.

Other companies soon followed with their own releases, including: "The Justice League Of Porn Star Heroes" and a parody of the vampire television series "True Blood."

Production costs can be more than 10 times as high as making a traditional pornographic movie, but the parodies sell for three times as much, Braun said.

They are, said Hirsch, the best-selling movies on Vivid TV, "after our celebrity sex tapes."

Rates

View Comments (10)

Recommended for You

  • Tycoon buys 30 Rolls-Royces for Macau hotel

    A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in…

    Associated Press
  • Norwich Information Security MS

    Online, accredited, top ranked. NSA Center of Academic Excellence. Recognized by the Department of Homeland Security. Download your free brochure!

    AdChoicesNorwich UniversitySponsored
  • Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia

    Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia MOSCOW (AP) — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's…

    Associated Press
  • Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks

    Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks While investors gear up for Alibaba Group 's (BABA) hotly anticipated initial public offering, don't forget about other Chinese stocks that are worth keeping an eye on. Today's Young Guns Screen of

    Investor's Business Daily
  • As Fed takes baby steps, Cramer's trick for profit

    In turn, Cramer says making money in the market, involves looking at the environment through the lens of the Fed. "The trick is to remember that they speak for the common person," Cramer said. "The Fed wants the common person to make money." With that backdrop always in mind, Cramer says it becomes…

    CNBC
  • "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savings

    "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savingsBy the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire. Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and

    Yahoo Finance
  • Play

    Citi, Bank of America Offer Discounted Mortgages

    Citigroup and Bank of America will offer mortgages at discounted interest rates to help borrowers with low incomes or subprime credit. AnnaMaria Andriotis joins MoneyBeat. Photo: Getty.

    WSJ Live
  • Costco Stores in Canada to Stop Taking American Express

    “The credit card relationship between American Express and Costco Wholesale Canada will not be renewed when it expires” on Dec. 31, the company said today in an e-mail to Canadian customers. The message was attributed to Lorelle Gilpin, vice president of marketing and membership for Costco…

    Bloomberg
  • Master's Degree in Nursing

    CCNE accredited MS in nursing in as few as 18 months online. Learn more today!

    AdChoicesNorwich UniversitySponsored
  • CNBC Anchor Calls Out Fed-Hater Bill Fleckenstein In Startling Shouting Match

    CNBC Bill Fleckenstein of Fleckenstein Capital appeared on CNBC's Futures Now program on Tuesday. Futures Now host Jackie DeAngelis came out swinging, asking Fleckenstein right at the top if he was willing to admit that he had misunderstood monetary policy. Sounding taken aback, Fleckenstein…

    Business Insider
  • Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court

    Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors seeking to put the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies in prison for hiding millions in Swiss bank accounts told appellate court judges Wednesday that the toymaker's sentence of probation threatens to erode the…

    Associated Press
  • Apple to unveil new iPads, operating system on Oct. 21 : report

    The company plans to unveil the sixth generation of its iPad and the third edition of the iPad mini, as well as its operating system OS X Yosemite, which has undergone a complete visual overhaul, the Internet news website said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment. The iPad is…

    Reuters
  • Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks

    Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks Gilead Sciences (GILD) shares are backsliding Wednesday on news that the patient drop-out rate for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is quadruple that of clinical trials. In addition, the biotech's Phase 2 study results

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Margaritaville casino owners seek bankruptcy

    The owner of Biloxi's Margaritaville casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, only hours before a hearing where the landlord aimed to seize the property. The filing by MVB Holding LLC in U.S. Don Dornan, a lawyer for landlord Clay Point LLC, said the company had planned to ask…

    Associated Press
  • Embraer to sell 50 E-175 jets to Republic in $2.1 billion deal

    Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial planemaker, said on Wednesday it booked a firm order from U.S. The deal, which will be included in Embraer's order book for the third quarter, is valued at $2.1 billion, the planemaker said in a securities filing. The planes will be operated…

    Reuters
  • Tired of Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

    New website reveals how to save $1,000's when you're living paycheck to paycheck. See exactly how.

    AdChoices Media ForceSponsored
  • Here's What Mark Cuban Wishes He Knew About Money In His 20s

    Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban is generous with his advice. When we asked him what he wishes he'd known about money in his 20s, he said:

    Business Insider
  • Play

    What the Fed Meeting Means for Bonds

    Janet Yellen & Co. are expected to hint at their timetable for raising interest rates. Here's how investors should prepare ahead of the meeting.

    WSJ Live
  • SHOE COMPANY: Our CEO Just Disappeared And Most Of The Money Is Gone

    "and like that: he's gone." This is an actual headline from a company press release: "CEO and COO disappeared, most of the company's cash missing." (Via FastFT) In a statement, German-based shoe company Ultrasonic said its CFO,  Chi Kwong Clifford Chan, has been unable to reach the company's CEO,…

    Business Insider
  • Billionaire Investor Says Chinese People Work Harder And Western Companies Could Face Deep Trouble After Alibaba IPO

    Michael Moritz, the chairman of VC firm Sequoia Capital, is a huge fan of Chinese internet companies and reiterated his enthusiasm for the Chinese market in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The billionaire investor described the Alibaba IPO as a “major landmark event” that is as…

    Business Insider
  • Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More

    Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More Stocks were firm on Wednesday morning ahead of the FOMC meeting outcome. Tuesday’s rally may have sparked higher interest again, and investors are looking for bargains

    24/7 Wall St.
  • 6 Things Debt Collectors Wish You Knew

    The work debt collectors do is not popular, and has become increasingly derided by those who don’t like what we do or simply don’t know the facts about debt collection. Too often, debt collection is painted with a broad brush to create a portrait that isn’t accurate, and doesn’t properly educate…

    Credit.com
  • Masters in Law Degree-Non JD

    Elevate your knowledge. Advance your career. Get Your Masters in Law. Online and Accredited. Graduate in Less Than 2 years. Free Brochure!

    AdChoicesChamplain CollegeSponsored
  • Boeing may have outfoxed Musk, but it could have bigger problems

    Elon Musk is arguably one of the greatest entrepreneurial minds of the 21st Century, but he was outsized an old school aerospace giant. Boeing won the bulk of NASA’s contract for a space taxi.  One of the other companies vying for the deal is SpaceX, the company headed by Tesla’s Musk, will get a…

    Talking Numbers