DAVIS, Calif. — If all goes as planned tonight, hundreds of students at the University of California, Davis, will watch a $10 million pornographic movie in a chemistry lecture hall, the periodic table of elements hanging above their heads.
It's been a long time since adult movies of the 1970s — "Behind the Green Door" and "Deep Throat" — roiled university campuses.
Today's college students have virtually unlimited access to pornography on their computers. Many see nothing thrilling about an X-rated movie on campus.
UC Davis administrators aren't objecting, saying the university doesn't censor student events.
So why is the campus's Entertainment Council – the student group that organizes films and concerts at UC Davis – screening "Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge?"
Part of the answer comes from Digital Playground, the Van Nuys adult entertainment company that made the swashbuckling tale of lust and adventure on the high seas. The movie – reportedly the most expensive porn film ever made – combines computer-generated images with hardcore sex scenes.
Digital Playground's 2005 film "Pirates" became a surprise hit on campuses from Yale to Tulane, said spokesman Christopher Ruth. Student groups contacted Digital Playground for permission to show that movie, he said.
From that experience, Ruth said the idea arose to market the 2008 sequel to university audiences by offering it free.
The marketing strategy is unique to Digital Playground, he said.
Student groups at a half-dozen universities — including UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University — accepted the offer. Hundreds of students lined up at each show.
The University of Maryland will screen the movie this weekend, the firm said.
The screenings generate publicity and sell a few copies of the movie, Ruth said.
But the larger point is to get young people accustomed to seeing adult movies as mainstream entertainment.
"It's not anything you should be ashamed of," he said. "Sexuality never is."
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