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The Hidden Business Lesson To Be Learned From James Franco’s Porn Drama “King Cobra”

It has to do with intellectual property.

The Hidden Business Lesson To Be Learned From James Franco’s Porn Drama “King Cobra”
James Franco in King Cobra

WHAT: King Cobra, a gay porn crime drama opening in theaters October 21.

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WHO: Justin Kelly wrote and directed this film, which casts James Franco and Christian Slater as porn producers. Franco, who starred in Kelly’s last film, I Am Michael, is also one of the producers of King Cobra. Garrett Clayton, recognizable from Teen Beach Party and The Fosters, and Keegan Allen of Pretty Little Liars, play porn stars, and Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald have small roles in the film.

WHY WE CARE: Inspired by a true story, King Cobra depicts a business rivalry gone bad between gay porn producers. A porn star named Sean (Clayton) is at the center of the drama. He is a charming and sexy but naive young guy who starts performing in porn videos using a stage name he pulled from the phone book—”Brent Corrigan.” Sean’s onscreen alter ego is a big hit, and Stephen (Slater), the producer of Sean’s low-budget videos, which he shoots at his suburban home (Kelly and the actors clearly had fun spoofing the ridiculous scenarios porn is so famous for), is soon making enough bank to buy a Maserati thanks to his youthful star but isn’t sharing the wealth. Seeking a bigger payday, Sean wants to break free of Stephen and make a video with Joe (Franco), another porn producer, and Joe’s young porn star boyfriend Harlow (Allen). The thing is, Sean has to perform as Brent Corrigan for them all to cash in on his fame, but Stephen controls the rights to the valuable stage name. Kelly likely didn’t set out to make a film that drives home the importance of protecting your intellectual property, but that is a takeaway from King Cobra. While the film takes a dark turn at the end, an enlightened entrepreneur is born.

About the author

Christine Champagne is a New York City-based journalist best known for covering creativity in television and film, interviewing the talent in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes. She has written for outlets including Emmy, Variety, VanityFair.com, Redbook, Time Out New York and TVSquad.com.

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