Erotica’s new tango

Producer revives Emmanuelle franchise

BUENOS AIRES — Emmanuelle, the often steamy, 31-year-old soft-porn franchise, is getting a modern makeover in Argentina with plans for the first worldwide theatrical release in a decade.

Alain Siritzky Prods., the Paris-based production outfit behind the series since the first Sylvia Kristel starrer in 1974, plans to sign an Argentine Emmanuelle for up to 10 90-minute features to be lensed in Argentina and elsewhere.

“This will be the return of Emmanuelle,” Alain Siritzky tells Variety.

The producer, who has worked with James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and Francois Truffaut, is adding fresh twists to the story and character, a beautiful, independent woman who emerged from a scandalous 1957 French novel to become as well known as James Bond.

Siritzky has tapped Argentina’s Milos Twilight to direct “Emmanuelle Tango” as his first feature. In this updated telling, Emmanuelle is part of an alien plot against Earth uncovered by a satellite firm; intrigue is set in Buenos Aires tango bars and Patagonia.

Twilight plans to use his skills from directing commercials to step up the pace. Plots and scene changes will be quicker, special effects plentiful and camerawork edgier.

“We want to attract younger people to the movie,” Twilight tells Variety.

The search for a new Emmanuelle will be conducted via a talent contest a la “American Idol.” Twenty women and 20 men will compete to be crowned the best seducers — and the stars of this new “Emmanuelle” series — in “Where are you, Emmanuelle?” They’ll re-create erotic scenes, act out orgasms, perform stripteases and phone sex and compete in wet T-shirt contests. The 40 contestants will tour nationwide showing off their skills to promote the program.

The franchise has focused on latenight TV since the 1980s, with one of the 37 films — set everywhere from Bangkok and Rio and even involving Dracula in one incarnation — airing in various markets. And new nets are popping up all the time, generating fresh demand for “Emmanuelle,” Siritzky contends.

Now, the producer is in talks with cell phone carriers to offer “Emmanuelle” content. Viewers of the Buenos Aires reality show will vote on contestants via cell phones. Games will be spun off, as will downloads on the Internet and a line of merchandise from calendars to shirts.

“I want to see this character evolve with new technology,” says Siritzky. “There is no question that eroticism and sex are the forefront of new technology. It is the first thing that people want to see.”

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