Classification[ edit ] Staff and actors at a pornographic film set in Australia Pornographic films are typically categorized as either softcore or hardcore pornography. In general, softcore pornography is pornography that does not depict explicit sexual activity , sexual penetration or extreme fetishism. Hardcore pornography is pornography that depicts penetration or extreme fetish acts, or both.
It contains graphic sexual activity and visible penetration. Pornographic films are generally classified into subgenres which describe the sexual fantasy which the film and actors attempt to create. Subgenres can also be classified into the characteristics of the performers or the type of sexual activity on which it concentrates and not necessarily on the market to which each subgenre appeals.
The subgenres usually conform to certain conventions , and each may appeal to a particular audience. History of erotic depictions and Stag film Early years: Her gyrating and moving pelvis was censored, one of the earliest films to be censored. At the time, there were numerous risque films that featured exotic dancers. It was a second film loop, with a close-up of a nuzzling couple followed by a short peck on the lips "the mysteries of the kiss revealed".
The kissing scene was denounced as shocking and obscene to early moviegoers and caused the Roman Catholic Church to call for censorship and moral reform - because kissing in public at the time could lead to prosecution. A tableau vivant style was used in short film The Birth of the Pearl  featuring an unnamed long-haired young model wearing a flesh-colored body stocking in a direct frontal pose  that provides a provocative view of the female body.
In Austria , cinemas would organise men-only theatre nights called Herrenabende at which adult films would be shown. Johann Schwarzer formed his Saturn-Film production company which between and produced 52 erotic productions, each of which contained young local women fully nude, to be shown at those screenings.
In , Saturn was dissolved by the censorship authorities which destroyed all the films they could find,  though some have since resurfaced from private collections. There were a number of American films in the s which contained female nudity in film.
Because Pirou is nearly unknown as a pornographic filmmaker, credit is often given to other films for being the first. In Black and White and Blue , one of the most scholarly attempts to document the origins of the clandestine 'stag film' trade, Dave Thompson recounts ample evidence that such an industry first had sprung up in the brothels of Buenos Aires and other South American cities by the turn of the 20th century, and then quickly spread through Central Europe over the following few years.
However, none of these earliest pornographic films are known to have survived. According to Patrick Robertson's Film Facts, "the earliest pornographic motion picture which can definitely be dated is A L'Ecu d'Or ou la bonne auberge" made in France in The plot depicts a weary soldier who has a tryst with a servant girl at an inn.
One film demonstrates how early pornographic conventions were established. The German film Am Abend is a ten-minute film which begins with a woman masturbating alone in her bedroom, and progresses to scenes of her with a man performing straight sex, fellatio and anal penetration.
Soon illegal, stag films, or blue films as they were called, were produced underground by amateurs for many years starting in the s. Processing the film took considerable time and resources, with people using their bathtubs to wash the film when processing facilities often tied to organized crime were unavailable.
The films were then circulated privately or by traveling salesman, but being caught viewing or possessing them put one at the risk of prison. Entrepreneurs emerged to meet the demand. Europe and United States[ edit ] On the European continent, sex films were more explicit. Starting in , Lasse Braun was a pioneer in quality colour productions that were, in the early days, distributed by making use of his father's diplomatic privileges.
Braun was able to accumulate funds for his lavish productions from the profit gained with so-called loops, ten-minute hardcore movies which he sold to Reuben Sturman , who distributed them to 60, American peep show booths. In December , American female director Doris Wishman began producing a series of eight pornographic films, or nudist films without sex scenes, including Hideout in the Sun  , Nude on the Moon  and Diary of a Nudist  She also produced a series of sexploitation films.
In the s, social and judicial attitudes towards the explicit depiction of sexuality began to change. For example, Swedish film I Am Curious Yellow included numerous frank nude scenes and simulated sexual intercourse.
In one particularly controversial scene, Lena kisses her lover's flaccid penis. The film was exhibited in mainstream cinemas, but in it was banned in Massachusetts allegedly for being pornographic. The ban was challenged in the courts, with the Supreme Court of the United States ultimately declaring that the film was not obscene,   paving the way for other sexually explicit films. Another Swedish film Language of Love was also sexually explicit, but was framed as a quasi-documentary sex educational film , which made its legal status uncertain though controversial.
In , Denmark became the first country to abolish all censorship laws, enabling pornography, including hardcore pornography. The example was followed by toleration in the Netherlands , also in There was an explosion of pornography commercially produced in those countries, including, at the very beginning, child pornography and bestiality porn.
Now that being a pornographer was legal, there was no shortage of businessmen who invested in plant and equipment capable of turning out a mass-produced, cheap, but quality product. Vast amounts of this new pornography, both magazines and films, needed to be smuggled into other parts of Europe, where it was sold "under the counter" or sometimes shown in "members only" cinema clubs.
However, mainstream theatres would normally not screen even softcore films, leading to a rise of adult theaters in the United States and many other countries. There was also a proliferation of coin-operated "movie booths" in sex shops that displayed pornographic "loops" so called because they projected a movie from film arranged in a continuous loop.
Denmark started producing comparatively big-budget theatrical feature film sex comedies such as Bordellet , the Bedside-films — and the Zodiac-films — , starring mainstream actors a few of whom even performed their own sex scenes and usually not thought of as "porno films" though all except the early Bedside-films included hardcore pornographic scenes. Several of these films still rank among the most seen films in Danish film history  and all remain favourites on home video. The film Boys in the Sand represented a number of pornographic firsts.
As the first generally available gay pornographic film, the film was the first to include on-screen credits for its cast and crew albeit largely under pseudonyms , to parody the title of a mainstream film in this case, The Boys in the Band , and, after the film Blue Movie ,  one of the first to be reviewed by The New York Times.
These were shot on film and screened in mainstream movie theaters. The prediction that frank depictions of onscreen sex would soon become commonplace did not materialize. William Rotsler expressed this in , "Erotic films are here to stay. Eventually they will simply merge into the mainstream of motion pictures and disappear as a labeled subdivision. Nothing can stop this. The case established that obscenity was not legally protected, but the case also established the Miller test , a three-pronged test to determine obscenity which is not legal as opposed to indecency which may or may not be legal.
By , most pornographic films were being shot on the cheaper and more convenient medium of videotape. Many film directors resisted this shift at first because videotape produced a different image quality.
However, those who did change soon were collecting most of the industry's profits, since consumers overwhelmingly preferred the new format. The technology change happened quickly and completely when directors realized that continuing to shoot on film was no longer a profitable option. This change moved the films out of the theaters and into people's homes. This was the end of the age of big-budget productions; the mainstreaming of pornography had begun. It soon went back to its earthy roots and expanded to cover nearly every fetish possible, since filming was now so inexpensive.
Instead of hundreds of pornographic films being made each year, thousands were now being made, including compilations of just the sex scenes from various videos. Similarly, the camcorder spurred changes in pornography in the s, when people could make their own amateur sex movies, whether for private use, or for wider distribution.
The year saw an important legal case in the U. Freeman was the legalization of hardcore pornography. The prosecution of Harold Freeman was initially planned as the first in a series of legal cases to effectively outlaw the production of such movies.
These offered better quality picture and sound than the previous video format videotape and allowed innovations such as "interactive" videos that let users choose such variables as multiple camera angles, multiple endings and computer-only DVD content. The introduction and widespread availability of the Internet further changed the way pornography was distributed. Previously, videos would be ordered from an adult bookstore, or through mail-order; but, with the Internet, people could watch pornographic movies on their computers, and instead of waiting weeks for an order to arrive, a movie could be downloaded within minutes or, later, within a few seconds.
Pornography can be distributed over the Internet in a number of ways, including paysites , video hosting services , and peer-to-peer file sharing. While pornography had been traded electronically since the s, it was in the invention of the World Wide Web in as well as the opening of the Internet to the general public around the same time that led to an explosion in online pornography. In , the Danish , Oscar -nominated film production company Zentropa became the world's first mainstream film company to openly produce hardcore pornographic films, starting with Constance That same year, Zentropa also produced Idioterne , directed by Lars von Trier , which won many international awards and was nominated for a Golden Palm in Cannes.
The film includes a shower sequence with a male erection and an orgy scene with close-up penetration footage the camera viewpoint is from the ankles of the participants, and the close-ups leave no doubt as to what is taking place. Idioterne started a wave of international mainstream arthouse films featuring explicit sexual images, such as Catherine Breillat 's Romance , which starred pornstar Rocco Siffredi.
More recently, the Internet has served as catalyst for creating a still-larger market for porn, a market that is even less traditionally theatrical. By the s, there were hundreds of adult film companies, releasing tens of thousands of productions, recorded directly on video, with minimal sets.
Of late, webcams and webcam recordings are again expanding the market. Thousands of pornographic actors work in front of the camera to satisfy pornography consumers' demand.
With reliably profitable DVD sales being largely supplanted by streaming media delivery over the Internet , competition from bootleg, amateur and low-cost professional content on the Internet had made the industry substantially less profitable, leading to it shrinking in size. The industry employs thousands of performers along with support and production staff. It is also followed by dedicated industry publications and trade groups as well as the mainstream press, private organizations watchdog groups , government agencies, and political organizations.
According to a Reuters article, "The multi-billion-dollar industry releases about 11, titles on DVD each year. However, by , widespread availability of illegally copied content and other low-cost competition on the Internet had made the pornographic film industry smaller and reduced profitability. These produce primarily amateur or "independent" porn films.
The figure is often credited to a study by Forrester Research and was lowered in According to the Forbes data, the annual income distribution is the following: