As money shots go, it's a doozy: thirty-three years after porn star Linda Lovelace shocked and awed audiences with her special gift, Deep Throat is set to make everybody squirm again with a new theatrical run and a May DVD rerelease.
''Porn films today are gonzo, ugly, without story,'' says distributor Mark Borde, who's helping Arrow Productions (owner of Throat's copyright) dole out new prints of the 1972 blockbuster that cost only $25,000 but ultimately grossed some $600 million worldwide. ''Deep Throat is a comedy. We're approaching this as a cultural icon, a hoot.'' At least 20 theaters (art houses, of course) will start showing the porn classic mostly at midnight screenings on Feb. 25, spurred by the release of Universal's NC-17-rated documentary Inside Deep Throat. This time, they're counting on kitsch, not controversy, to sell the phallic phenom. ''The stigma that you're going into 'that section' of the video store doesn't attach itself to a midnight screening,'' says Laemmle Theatres prez Greg Laemmle, who'll screen Throat at the chain's West Hollywood outpost. ''It plays into the idea that this film has descended into camp.'' (Borde and Arrow president Raymond Pistol shopped an R-rated version to exhibitors, but shocker! nobody bit.)
One potential snag: If ticket buyers seemed less than enthusiastic about the Sundance-hyped Inside Deep Throat doc which earned a fair but unspectacular $89,000 on 12 screens in its opening weekend will they turn out for the movie itself? ''The [NC-17] rating will keep grosses down under any circumstance,'' says an admittedly disappointed Borde. Or it could be that the once-startling film a hit that drew the likes of Truman Capote and Jack Nicholson has aged into a rusty relic in an era of readily available Internet and DVD porn.