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Bailey & Barbato Challenge LA Times Article

Directors of the Inside Deep Throat Documentary, Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato, wrote the following letter to the LA Times: Michael Hiltzik’s reluctance to believe our research that a little film like “Deep Throat”, could generate $600 million in revenue is understandable. But as the Deep Throat of Watergate fame said, “Follow the money”:

Banning a film didn’t mean that theaters didn’t show it or that people didn’t go to see it. Quite the reverse; they flocked to the theaters in droves. What’s more, because it was banned and because it was a hot ticket, theater owners across the country (Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, etc.) charged $5 a ticket, more than double the average price. On special occasions – after a police raid in Atlanta, for example – prices soared to $10.

No wonder an FBI field report (obtained by us under the Freedom of Information Act) shows that two theaters were generating a gross of $100,000 a week from “Deep Throat.”

And though Variety tracked domestic grosses from “Deep Throat” during the first few years of its release, its box-office chart reflected a sample of no more than five theaters. Yet various sources, including the New York Times, claimed that the film played in more than 70 U.S. cities within six months of release.

So with twice the screenings, four times the ticket price and at least 10 times the number of screens, we feel that $110 million is a conservative estimate of the domestic box-office take enjoyed by “Deep Throat” since its release.

But wait, there’s more. “Deep Throat” was licensed to at least 75 foreign territories for theatrical release. Even if we were to take a conservative figure of just more than $1 million per territory, that’s $80 million.

It’s fair, as well, to add $26.5 million for skimming, shenanigans and lapses of accounting both in the U.S. and overseas.

And then there’s video and DVD. We know that by 1995 more than 3 million VHS cassettes of “Deep Throat” had been sold. Hiltzik is right that VHS players were expensive in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but that didn’t deter people from buying them. And it wasn’t just VCRs that were expensive; tapes were too.

When “Deep Throat” was first released on video in 1977, the average price was about $180. Arrow Productions, the current distributor of the film, estimates that half the copies sold at this premium price.

Thereafter the price drifted down to the $60 mark, which is the average retail price Arrow calculated for the sale of the other 1.5 million units. That brought total video revenue of $360 million until 1995.

On top of that, there’s rental income. Variety reported that by 1994, VHS rentals from “Deep Throat” had made $20 million.

So that’s $380 million, not even counting the last 10 years in DVD and video sales and rentals. Currently, Arrow Productions sells on average about 15,000 “Deep Throat” DVDs a year, generating almost $5 million over the last decade.

So by adding our box-office total of $216.5 million to our DVD and video sales of $385 million, we get a grand total of more than $600 million (a total that excludes all the hotel pay-per-view delivery that is currently the lifeblood of the adult entertainment business).

Yes, it’s quite possible that $600 million is indeed “baloney.” But that’s because the true figure is probably even higher than that.


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