Amid all of the talk about digital compression, adultpay-per-view, near-video-on-demand and the scarcity of marquee fights, the industry buzzheading into last week's CTAM Digital/PPV show was about a movie -- and it wasn'tmega-blockbuster Titanic.
In fact, it was about a film that very few people haveseen, but one that, if handled correctly, could really boost awareness of the industry.Pathe Pictures' Lolita, based on Vladimir Nabokov's classic novel about an olderman's sexual encounters with an underage girl, is so hot that the Hollywood studios won'ttouch it. Without the influence or marketing muscle of the powerful studios, the filmwould have a difficult time getting wide theatrical distribution.
Enter PPV: The industry has been begging Hollywood to allowit to premiere a high-profile movie to help firmly establish PPV as a viable distributionoutlet, and it finally had before it a movie with built-in hype that it could exploit.
But the PPV industry chickened out and punted to its DBSand pay TV competitors. Viewer's Choice balked at offering Lolita, claming that thesubject matter was too controversial even for PPV -- even though the movie avoided thedreaded NC-17 MPAA rating.
Request Television said it has to see the film before itcan make a decision, but by then, it may be too late.
At press time, DBS provider DirecTv and Showtime Networkswere in heavy negotiations for the premiere rights to the movie. The move would be a coupfor both. DirecTv already outperforms cable on PPV and, by selling Lolita, the DBScompany would further distance itself from cable with an exclusive that PPV turned down.
Showtime could use the film to further plug its new"No Limits" branding campaign.
PPV already has a built-in V-chip technology, since no onecan see the film without ordering it.
While Lolita is controversial and some viewers mayobject to its subject matter, many others would be eager to pay $4 to see it.
How can an industry with its claim to fame being adultfilms and Mike Tyson's bite marks worry about its image?
PPV, however, will most likely get a crack at premiering amovie soon. Turner Home Entertainment will make PPV the first window for its new"romantic comedy," The Real Reasons (Men Commit Crimes), starring WCWwrestling heartthrob Sting "as wrestling fans have never seen him before,"according to Turner.
Somehow, this premiere falls short of the marquee titlethat PPV is desperately looking for -- something like Lolita.