2016 Outlook: Studio Execs Discuss Plans, Challenges
What will the New Year of 2016 bring for the adult video business? According to an informal XBIZ survey, there’s a lot of hope in the midst of ongoing challenges. Even in an industry dominated by webcams and free online sites, positivity rules. Trends are moving toward doing what has been working well in the past. There will be partnerships with cam sites and other ways of dealing with Internet marketing, but also continued creativity in the production of features and parodies.
And it’s not all about product. As Vivid’s Steven Hirsch points out, there are several litigation matters of crucial importance waiting to be resolved in the year ahead.
Adult video is diverse, each company with its own particular preoccupations and strategies, so we’re taking them one by one. Here’s what some of the industry’s most high-profile company owners and producers see coming in 2016.
Adam & Eve Pictures
Vice-president Bob Christian and production head Rachel Vigneaux are both upbeat about the future. “In 2016 Adam & Eve will continue making movies that we find our customers want, which right now is predominantly a mix of features, vignettes, and educational movies. Additional co-productions, like we did with Wicked on ‘Wanted’ this year, are likely. We are working to increase our digital delivery footprint, to grow our VOD and membership sites — and we will still make DVDs. Adam & Eve Pictures certainly will have our eye on anything VR-related and plan to get our feet wet in that arena.
“Also, we are looking at results from some of the episodic content we created this past year to determine if we should continue creating content in that format. We know that releasing one episode a week put ‘Confessions of a Sex Surrogate’ in three of our top five spots on AdamandEveTV.com, our membership site. But determining the metrics for success is challenging.”
Axel Braun Productions
Axel Braun, coming off yet another round of profits and awards, is confident that 2016 “is going to be an exciting year for ABP. I re-signed Riley Steele for a third year and I just signed the awesome Carter Cruise to an exclusive one-year contract. I’m actually in the middle of shooting her first showcase movie, ‘Cruise Control,’ which will be released in January. I also just finished an Asa Akira showcase called ‘Asa Goes to Hell,’ which is absolutely amazing, and I’ve got a couple big-budget parodies, an ambitious fairy tale, and an original feature on my slate, as well as several all-sex projects.”
Evil Angel Video
John Stagliano, ruler of the Evil Empire, predicts, “2016 should be the most challenging year yet for the adult business in general. With DVD sales falling and ever increasing competition on the Internet, just figuring out how to get movies produced and paid for is an increasing challenge. Evil Angel does not tell its directors what to produce. Our directors are always evolving to make more commercial movies. In the last year several of our directors found new successful lines, like Dana Vespoli and her family relations movies, and Le Wood and their anal-themed movies. Our directors are always searching for what works in today’s market. The beautiful images of Jonni Darkko and Toni Ribas should continue to set the standard for how well really hard sex can be shot.”
“We are very excited about 2016,” said Exile owner Howard Levine. “There are several new large companies we will be taking on, which I cannot name at this point. January will be announcement month.” He did reveal that Exile has “just struck a deal with Rebecca Lords for a new hardcore line called Rebecca Lords Extreme which will complement her Rebecca Lords Films high-end line.
“I am very excited about Burning Angel and the direction they are taking for 2016. We have already significantly increased Joanna’s numbers on new release, with her numerous nominations for her 2015 films. She makes a great product of all original content that has been slightly overlooked. Her movies sell well — stores just need to stock them.
“Forbidden Fruits continues to be the crown jewel in our line-up. They are discussing a few big-budget movies for 2016 and still are the most sought-after line on the market. They sell well and get reordered daily. Big things will be happening for AMKingdom and Exile this next year.
“I am also moving forward in the gay market with Entertainment West and Manhole Media, providing an affordable gay product that has legs.
We just added a six-hour line called Pop Shots that is doing very well.
“In four short years Exile has stuck with a plan: Take on the best studios with the best content and be very picky about who they are. Give the best customer service to the most important people, our distributors.
Say thank you for every order we get, because we are grateful for their business. We will continue that game plan for the future.”
New Sensations/Digital Sin
Scott Taylor, New Sensations owner and founder, is a confident man. “We will start the year off with a bang,” he asserts. “‘The Submission of Emma Marx: Boundaries,’ the third and final installment of our highly successful ‘Emma Marx’ series, will be released in late January. We will continue to blaze new trails as we have done with our ‘Hotwife’ series. We will remain with a wide focus that ranges from true romance movies to the edgier themed content of ‘Tabu Tales’ and ‘Tales From The Edge.’ We will take our direction from our successes and consumer feedback. Our customers and competition evolve over time. We will remain flexible and continue to strive to be the very best at what we do both now and in the future.”
Wyatt Case, Smash’s vice-president/sales, told XBIZ: “As far as the upcoming year we are looking at following up on the success of our titles ‘Dr Milf,’ ‘Xchange Students,’ ‘Shade X’ and ‘Romance X’ with new volumes of each. We will also be shooting our 2016 big-budget feature in January as well a brand new Pink Velvet all-girl feature in February. Also we are about to re-launch our website, SmashPictures.com, which will include our new partnership with the great cam site Live Jasmin.”
“It will definitely be an interesting year,” said CEO and co-founder Steven Hirsch. “There’s the Measure B trial set for the first quarter as well as hopefully final resolution on the 2257 litigation. There is also the potential statewide mandatory condom ballot measure, which could change porn in California forever.
“Decreased porn production continues, although the well-established companies finally seem poised for growth. Tube sites continue to dominate — but for how long? People still love porn and will continue to seek out quality adult product and will pay for it if that’s the only way they can get it.”
Steve Orenstein, Wicked’s president and owner, revealed some upbeat plans for what sounds like a busy 2016. “While DVD is not a growing segment of the market, we continue to do well with both our original stories as well as our parodies, and we do even better with our high-profile projects like ‘Peter Pan XXX: An Axel Braun Parody,’ for the Wicked Fairy Tale series, and ‘Batman v. Superman XXX: An Axel Braun Parody’ for the Wicked Comix imprint.
“Similarly, we were extremely pleased with the excellent reviews and consumer response to Brad Armstrong’s ‘Magic Mike XXXL: A Hardcore Parody.’Original movies like Brad’s ‘Starmaker’ and Stormy Daniels’ ‘Wanted Stormy’ have done great business and earned fine reviews, as have Stormy’s Wicked Passions releases like ‘Waiting On Love’ and ‘When It Comes To You.’
“Looking to the New Year, Brad recently wrapped ‘Living Dolls’ starring all three of our contract girls, Stormy, Jessica Drake and Asa Akira. We are in the planning stages with Brad on his next few projects which will certainly get a lot of attention, and jessica just wrapped her starring role in ‘Casual Encounters,’ directed by David Lord.
Axel is working on a showcase movie for his new contract star Carter Cruise and planning the next installment of his Wicked Comix series. Stormy is looking forward to following up on the incredible success she has had this past year, and has some great ideas for her next few movies. Jonathan Morgan has several exciting projects in development and we have some dynamic collaborations lined up with Hank Hoffman as well.”
The sassy, user-friendly WoodRocket had a “huge year” online in 2015, and according to owner Lee Roy Myers, 2016 looks like it will be another one. “We are going to continue to put out more parodies and web series and photo shoots and articles and podcasts than we ever have before. We will continue to make new episodes of our hit web series like ‘Ask A Porn Star,’ as well as premiering brand new web series and specials. And we already have 12 new porn parodies planned.
“We’re growing, so we have also partnered with several amazing companies in order to expand our YouTube and mainstream video presence, our adult video presence, and to finally release WoodRocket Parody Porn and VCX Classic Porn merchandise like shirts and posters and other products that we think fans will really appreciate. If that weren’t enough to keep us busy and to keep fans excited, in 2016 there will be WoodRocket live events, and we will be going into production on our first R-Rated feature film. 2016 is going to be an amazing and busy year for us.”
Will Ryder, Xplay co-owner and the king of comedy-parody, has plenty to say. “If I had to sum up our movie production plans for 2016 it would be ‘proceed with caution,’ because the adult movie market is in a serious state of decay. Webcam companies are printing money and are the new kings, but for movie producers like us, gone are the days of knowing that a well-produced product will sell insane numbers. But there is a glimmer of hope for those that develop a new niche, or create a high quality product or just do what others are doing but only 10 times better — like Blacked.com—that they can wind up on the happy side of the economic scale. People worldwide are watching porn in record numbers, they just aren’t paying for it quite as much. So that presents a big problem to a creative studio like ours trying to unleash our artistic sensibilities with today’s down sales market.
“The projects on our schedule this year include ‘Not Jurassic World XXX,’ complete with pussy and dinosaurs; a brand new original romantic comedy that I have written; and the continuation of Adam & Eve’s X-rated soap opera ‘The Young & the Rest of Us.’
“I have so many great ideas but most of them die sitting on paper because the economic fortunes are out to sea due to free porn. The people that are daring, talented and still want to fight can survive. I’m not so sure I’m feeling that drive for success in the adult movie business anymore. The world is a big place and I want to try other things in the world of entertainment — but how can you say no to creating a few really fun projects with beautiful young naked ladies? I certainly cannot.”