One step up, one step back for Lolita.

British officials have okayed director Adrian Lyne's $62 million art-house film for a May release there--a major step for a movie still considered too hot for U.S. theaters.

At the same time, the hopes for the film to find an American audience dimmed further with news that a potential pay-per-view TV deal has flatlined.

A week after saying it was "very interested" in Lolita, DirecTV has ended negotiations with Pathé, the French company that put up the money for Lyne's take on Vladimir Nabokov's infamous novel, Daily Variety reports.

The cable company was worried about how Lolita--marked by Nabokov's taboo theme of a middle-aged man (Jeremy Irons) obsessed with a pre-teen girl (Dominique Swain)--would play with its subscribers, a source tells Variety.

DirecTV becomes the third pay-per-view distributor to pass on the film.

This leaves Showtime as the likely last, best hope for Lolita in the United States. Pathé has been talking up the pay-cable service on the film, gathering dust since shooting wrapped in February 1996.

Lolita premiered to mixed critical notices last September at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival.

The orphaned film found a rare friend in the British Board of Film Classification. In a statement, the government censors ruled that Lyne's film is "a challenging and compassionate treatment of an established literary classic...," and declared it okay for moviegoers age 18 and older.

Outraged family groups blasted the board's decision Tuesday.

"Although we might not stop the film being shown," an official from Britain's Family and Youth Concern told Reuters wire service, "we are speaking out against it and speaking out for as many people who equally deplored [it]."

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