Showtime pays for ‘Sex’ foreplay

Gantzes eyeing distribs for post-b'cast theatrical bow

NEW YORK — Showtime has entered into a deal for a $1.1 million feature-length documentary about swingers called “Sex With Strangers” that will allow the producer-directors to release the movie to theaters after its premiere on the network June 30.

The filmmakers, Joe and Harry Gantz (HBO’s “Taxicab Confessions”), have begun talking to independent movie distributors for the post-Showtime foray into the multiplexes, offering not only U.S. theatrical rights but foreign theatrical and worldwide homevideo rights.

Harry Gantz said Showtime has put up $425,000 of the production budget to get exclusive pay TV rights to “Sex With Strangers” in the U.S. It’s a fairly rare occurrence, but a dozen or so movies that premiered on Showtime in the past have engineered a theatrical run, including Adrian Lyne’s remake of “Lolita” and Eleanor Coppola’s docu “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.”

Lengthy effort

The Gantzes spent more than a year working on “Sex With Strangers,” which follows three couples — two in the Pacific Northwest and one in Mississippi — who lead middle-class lives but also spend a fair amount of time seeking to “keep their sex lives interesting,” said Joe Gantz, by getting involved with other partners.

The point of the movie is to explore the effect of swinging on the couples’ relationships. There are scenes of sexual intercourse, “but nothing that goes beyond what you’d see in a fictional R-rated movie,” Harry Gantz said.

With “Strangers” completed, the Gantzes are working on a pilot for CBS of a half-hour reality series called “Love Stories,” featuring couples from various age groups talking about their relationships (Daily Variety, April 3).

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