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‘SHOWGIRLS’ TO VAMP WIDE

United Artists will release its steamy “Showgirls” on an unprecedented 1,300 screens in North America, the studio announced.

The $40 million pic, which was tagged with a controversial NC-17 rating by the MPAA, will have the widest opening ever for an NC-17 release. It bows Sept. 22 against New Line Cinema’s “Seven.”

Universal’s “Henry and June” holds the previous record for screens of an NC-17 pic with 308. Pic was the first to hold the rating after it was introduced in 1990.

MGM/UA Distribution Co. prexy Larry Gleason said the large number of screens for “Showgirls” confirms that an NC-17 can be “effectively distributed in a wide release pattern.”

He said that exhibitors who have screened the Paul Verhoeven-helmed pic were enthusiastic about it.

“We’re not selling the rating,” Gleason told Daily Variety. “We’re selling the picture. People who have seen the picture seem to enjoy it. The exhibitors who have screened it see it as a commercial film.”

Gleason added that he was confident the pic would win its opening weekend.

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