Hustler Streets 'This Ain't Avatar XXX 3D' Blockbuster Today
Although Hustler wouldn’t release official numbers, the company said "Avatar" had a working budget that’s three times that of a normal XXX feature that based on typical industry standards could be anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 or more.
The movie included huge crews, mainstream set designers and makeup personnel, state-of-the-art cameras, CGI-tech and post production and was helmed by Axel Braun, one of the hottest parody directors in the industry today.
With all of this ammunition the new "Avatar" parody is on course to create a frenzy the likes of the hugely successful Digital Playground “Pirates” franchise.
Taking a page from Digital Playground’s savvy marketing move releasing “Pirates” closely after the success of the mainstream Johnny Depp movie, Hustler wasted no time announcing the new movie in early 2010. The company staked its claim on the world’s most successful movie smack in the middle of parody fever leaving other adult companies probably wishing they had acted more quickly.
But even if they did, Hustler has the chops — financially and brand-wise — to pull it off where other studios aside from a handful like Vivid, Wicked or Digital Playground.
So what made Hustler jump into "Avatar’s" world?
Hustler founder Larry Flynt told XBIZ, "We're taking adult entertainment to the same level of quality production and technical expertise as mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. Our production of 'Avatar' will raise the bar and usher in a new era of 3D content."
And although this may be Hustler’s most serious production to date, the movie is after all a parody and is not without some humor.
“There is quite a bit of humor in this film. LFP spokesperson Julie Messing said. "Parodies should be fun. When we want serious we make original features. Nothing is better than sexy and fun.
She added, “Hustler is always evaluating what would make a great adult parody. 'Avatar' had two things going for it: commercial success and the fact creating a parody of it would be technically challenging as we like a challenge. Hustler also wanted to be a leader in 3D and this title would make a perfect first 3D film.”
And from all indications, aside from the obvious marketing benefits Hustler could reap embracing 3D — a trend that’s catching fire in mainstream movies and TV sets across the globe (reports indicate that consumers in most of Asia, especially Korea want only 3D capable TVs) — making the most memorable 3D porn movie will vault Hustler into the James Cameron ranks of XXX.
The 3D porn wave is also becoming global. A $1 million budget hardcore adaptation of a softcore movie, “3D Sex and Zen” has recently been produced in Hong Kong.
And there’s another benefit to producing a 3D movie — it’s tougher to pirate — a way to confront the major concern of today’s adult producers.
Hustler tapped industry veteran director and XBIZ Award winner Braun to direct "Avatar" for a number of reasons. Braun is no stranger to parodies nor Hustler for that matter having a long history of collaboration with the company including the films “This Ain’t Star Trek XXX 1" and "2," “This Ain’t Beverly Hills 90210 XXX” and the popular “Nailin’ Palin” series.
The director had his sights set on the most ambitious project he and Hustler have ever undertaken.
“This is the most preparation I’ve ever done for a film. This project has been in development since December. I’ve worked closely with Roger Krypton on the script and storyboarding has been completed. I have looked at the various 3D acquisition systems and decided on one that I feel best suits the demands of adult filmmaking while providing the highest quality stereoscopic images," Braun told XBIZ upon the film’s announcement earlier this year.
The linchpin for "Avatar" is of course its 3D hook but Hustler’s adding another important bell to all of the movie’s whistles to cement the deal. The film, according to LFP Video vice president of operations Rob Smith, will be the first-ever 3D adult film released in the Blu-ray format and designed to take advantage of the ever-increasing popularity of 3D TVs.
“This will be the first 3D Blu-ray available for an adult film. There is about to be an explosion in available 3D titles in mainstream… but at the moment this will be one of three total movies available as a 3D Blu-ray,” Smith said.
But the tech doesn’t stop there. Smith said Hustler will be releasing the film in two formats, each with two versions. The SD DVD will include two discs one with a 2D normal version and the other disc will have an anaglyph 3D version the latter packaged with two sets of red/cyan glasses.
“The Blue-ray disc will contain two versions on one disc. One is 2D normal and the other is a side by side 3D that is playable on any modern 3D TV when you place it in side-by-side mode. It will also play in any Blu-ray player. While the side-by-side mode isn’t the normal 3D Blu-ray spec, we felt it was a better format to distribute at the moment as one Blu-ray disc will work for anyone with a Blu-ray player regardless of which version they choose to watch. Normal 2D for those without 3D TVs or the side-by-side 3D for those with 3D TVs,” Smith said.
He noted that "Avatar’s" side by side mode will work with any 3D TV using HDMI 1.4a spec regardless of whether the TV is using a polarized or active shutter system.
But the tech considerations are only half of the "Avatar" creation. The elaborate sets were constructed at Hustler’s San Fernando valley sound stages that the company describes as “colossal and intricate.”
In the official announcement of the movie last March, Drew Rosenfeld, Hustler Video’s creative director said, “We’re used to creating fantasies here at Hustler. But now we’re creating a whole fantasy world. On top of that we have to design and build this world to play in 3D. I love a challenge!”
A challenge indeed.
Braun said the set design alone was a three-week process and to take full advantage of the 3D technology the sets had to be built with intricate foregrounds and backgrounds.
“All of the plants and laves had to be incredibly detailed so that they would pop right out at the viewer in 3D. Our designers had to actually draw the veins on the leaves so they would look realistic in 3D,” Braun said.
The director said he used a Stereotek mini side-by-side 3D housing with Cumina cameras recording raw to a digital field recorder. Filmmaker geek tech talk for “we’re up to speed with major Hollywood productions.”
And Braun points out that the production also enlisted make-up artists and designers including make-up artist and hair stylist Lee Garland who has a long list of adult industry movie credits as well as mainstream credits on movies such as the 1999 production, “The Directors” and work on Jenna Jameson’s the E True Hollywood Story.
Also on hand was costume designer Sarah Mgeni, who comes with her own impressive Imdb list of Hollywood productions.
Add Sebastian Lumme from the Camadeus camera rental house as the shoot’s stereographer and the Avatar crew lineup boasts some credible Hollywood chops.
Braun explained that during "Avatar’s" creation the make-up alone often took four hours per person to apply. Hustler provided a special painting room, Braun likens to a car body shop with numerous kinds of body paint and compressors. He said that in order to facilitate some of the intense make-up the crew had to jerry-rig a huge compressor to the airbrush nozzles in place of a lesser machine.
“It was a really intense amount of work. I have to give huge credit to the actors. For example, Lexington Steele had to be painted blue and wait for his scene. The guy was fantastic — he stayed in that make-up for almost 14 hours and never complained once,” Braun said.
And "Avatar’s" set designers also had their hands full. Braun said that the crew was on hand constantly to move the intricate sets into the correct filming positions. He explained that because of the nature of 3D, the cameras needed to move about the sets to provide the proper perspectives so the viewer would feel like they’re part of the movie.
The tech aside, it will be the sex and the people in "Avatar" that will be the ultimate draw for the consumer. The mainstream movie recently released a sex scene with its CGI-created humanoid Na’vi from the fictional moon Pandora on DVD that was cut from the theatrical version that was undoubtedly a way to pump new sales.
But Hustler’s "Avatar" promises some real steamy action. The cast includes a mix of veterans and starlets including Danica Dillan, Evan Stone, Nicki Hunter, Eric Swiss, Chris Johnson, Misty Stone, Juelz Ventura, Chanel Preston, Dale Dabone and Lexington Steele.
Braun noted that he insisted the lead character be an African-American as it was in the mainstream version. Starlet Misty Stone fit the bill and her XXX performance was off the charts.
“We did an orgy scene with Misty, Lexington Steele and others and as the camera panned the 3D action the sex just jumped and popped!" Braun said. "Viewers are in for an incredible experience in that scene alone."
Braun was totally hands-on during production and in post. His Level 5 Post editing company handled all of "Avatar’s" post-production in what Braun described as an intensive level of quality control.
Although it would be expected that the movie would require heavy CGI effects, Braun said most of the scenes were physical and not created in after effects.
“When we saw what we shot we were so happy that we used the cameras we selected. Although they were very expensive we felt they will be cost effective as the quality is superior…and quality will always prevail," Braun said.
The director said "Avatar" will set a new level of excellence for the adult industry, but maintains there will be a lot of lower level 3D movies released, even in the gonzo niche.
“There will be gonzo 3D and a lot of other movies, but they won’t deliver unless they are produced correctly. It’ll be like watching the mainstream 'Avatar' at home without the visual ability to enjoy it in 3D — it’s silly. 3D then becomes a marketing gimmick and not a true experience,” Braun said.
And 3D alone won’t be Hustler’s marketing hook. According to Messing the company is planning a full rollout with screenings, premiere events and parties that will include a sneak peek of the movie in a 3D theater this month.
Braun revealed that the movie will be packaged in an “o-ring” box cover with foil embossing — a collector’s favorite at the proposed $40-$50 retail price tag depending on whether they select standard or Blu-ray formats.
The director said the film will hit the streets like nothing the industry has ever seen.
“Our salesperson, David Diamond will actually be going to a sales meeting in Hawaii equipped with a laptop to show 'Avatar' in its true 3D format. Hustler’s pulling out all the stops for this one.”