In the movie Knocked Up, the character played by Seth Rogen has a get-rich scheme to start a Web site that features Hollywood nude scenes, but his plans are dashed when he learns that another site, MrSkin.com, beat him to the punch.
What's bad news for the movie's protagonist turns out to be good news for Mr. Skin, an actual site, which saw a 35 percent bump in new visitors in June, when the movie was released.
But Knocked Up, which had permission to feature the site, was not the first to notice it. Mr. Skin had revenue of $5.3-million last year, primarily though $29.95-a-month subscriptions. With more than 175,000 revealing pictures and video clips of about 15,000 female actors (yes, only females), the site drew 2.9-million unique visitors in June, according to comScore, the Web traffic tracker.
"We don't care about cinematography or great acting or anything like that," says Jim McBride, who favors the title chief sexecutive. "We're concerned about the nudity - who's naked, and what they show."
McBride, 44, a former futures trader, made nude-scene compilations on VHS tapes as a hobby before starting the site in 1999. Today, his private company has nearly 40 employees, and McBride, the majority owner, appears frequently on radio shows to highlight the naughty bits on new theatrical and DVD releases.
Given that Mr. Skin is in the business of selling access to copyright material without permission, it might seem logical that the company would be mired in legal challenges, but it is not. Mr. Skin bills itself as a movie-review site - though one that assesses only starlet nudity - so McBride argues that the clips can be shown under the fair-use doctrine, which permits excerpting copyright material for criticism.
That legal defense turns out to be moot, though, because the movie studios not only tolerate McBride, but also court him by sending advance screeners of DVD releases.
More than 75 movie companies - including Universal, Fox, Paramount and Lionsgate - regularly send advance DVDs to McBride's company.
McBride bristles at suggestions that his site is pornographic, since it features PG- and R-rated movies (and some NC-17). That distinction helps it draw mainstream advertisers like film companies and National Lampoon.