As anyone with net points knows, figuring out how much money a picture’s made is like nailing quicksilver to a wall.
But when it comes to a film like “Deep Throat,” calculating its grosses involves the foggiest of foggy figures.
Produced by mobsters who eventually turned to weighing their box office cash instead of counting it, the pic was never subjected to, shall we say, generally accepted accounting principles.
So, it’s not surprising that the central claim in the marketing for Universal’s new doc “Inside Deep Throat” — that with $600 million in grosses, the 1972 pic is the most profitable movie ever made — has begun to raise eyebrows.
According to U, the $600 million figure, as estimated by “Inside” helmers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, includes worldwide box office and homevid.
Their assumptions are numerous — for instance, that all the wiseguy middlemen were skimming 15% of the take — but they arrive at this computation: $126.5 million in domestic B.O., $86.3 million foreign and $384.5 million from homevideo (rentals and more than 3 million units sold). That’s a grand total of … $597.3 million.
They could be right, but given that most of the “Deep Throat” cash ended up in duffel bags headed to the Bahamas, anyone’s guess is just that: a guess.
One could still easily argue that 1915’s “The Birth of a Nation” (another film few would be proud to show their mother) was the most profitable movie ever. Made for $100,000, its $60 million box office would be the equivalent of $1 billion today.
Keeping with tradition, the current owners of “Deep Throat,” Arrow Prods. — not its original producers — are distributing it on the midnight circuit, and they won’t be reporting grosses either.