XXX Blue, Spending Green

It's the start of the movie-awards season--not just in Hollywood, but over the hill in the San Fernando Valley, home to the pornography industry. This week Adult Video News will announce nominees for its annual show, held in Las Vegas each January. And one film seems poised to pile up honors the way "The Aviator" dominated this year's Oscars. "Pirates," released in September, is already being hailed as a blue movie for the ages.

Filmed in California and Florida at a cost of more than $1 million (its producer calls it the most expensive porno in history), it features lavish special effects, epic sea battles and skillful swordplay. The director of "Pirates," who uses the name Joone, says he decided to splurge for a high-quality film that would stand out from the low-budget clutter. So far it's paid off: he says it's already sold more than 100,000 copies. (Many pornos sell just 5,000.) "This is a landmark achievement in our business," says Paul Fishbein, Adult Video News president. "The production values are incredible--if you took the sex scenes out, it [still] looks better than a lot of independent films that make it to the big screen." We'll have to take his word for it.

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