Tour groups headed for vacations and film viewing

The movie “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy,” which bills itself as the world’s first serious 3D porn pic, is generating a lot of excitement in China, even though it won’t be shown there.

Instead, it will be released in Hong Kong and Taiwan in mid-April, where its producers hope that Mainland Chinese tour groups will boost the box office for the pic.

A reworking of the 1991 Hong Kong cult sensation “3D Sex and Zen,” the film features Japanese adult video starlets Saori Hara and Yukiko Suho, along with Hong Kong thesp Vonnie Lu.

“It will leave audiences feeling like they are sitting right there at the edge of the bed,” Stephen Shiu Jr., who wrote and produced the $3.2 million, Cantonese-language film, told Chinese online sites.

Shiu and his father, Stephen Shiu Sr., produced the original “Sex and Zen,” which grossed $2.6 million for their One Dollar Prods. Based on a classic Chinese erotic text “The Carnal Prayer Mat,” the movie centers on a young man who gets a taste of sexual escapades, including orgies, at the royal court. It includes what Chiu says are “very graphic sex scenes.” He said he hopes the film can be shown in Imax theaters, while conceding that porn is not a genre associated with the giantscreen chain.

There are already reports of tour groups heading to Hong Kong and Taiwan to watch “Extreme Ecstasy.” According to Taiwanese newspapers, at least five groups have made reservations to see the film; its debut coincides with the Mainland’s May Day holiday.

In Hong Kong, thousands of tickets have been presold. Chiu says his shingle has recouped 60% to 70% of costs through advance ticket sales and sales to markets such as Australia, Peru, Korea, France, Italy and Russia. The filmmakers are cutting numerous versions of the movie so it can pass muster with censors in different markets.

It remains to be seen if viewers’ 3D glasses steam up during “3D Sex and Zen’s” racier moments, but the porn industry is desperate for a comeback after being sidelined by free product on the Internet, and 3D could be B.O. Viagra for the genre. Italian helmer Tinto Brass is planning a 3D version of his classic 1979 erotic film “Caligula,” and there have been one or two low-budget 3D porn movies already released, including “This Ain’t Avatar XX.”

Viewers want more than mere erotica, says the 3D pic’s helmer, Christopher Sun. “They want some wow factor.”

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