Image from Wikipedia
Last weekend around the campfire we were having a discussion about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie that is in the works. The most important item was the rating – would the movie go with an R rating or full-blown NC-17. I think anything other than NC-17 would be a disservice to the film world. I have not read the book, but I have read scenes. My wife has also finished it and has no interest in completing the trilogy.
First and foremost an R rating would bring Fifty Shades to a larger audience. That being said you would assume that those people would then read the book. Since the book is much more graphic than what you would get in an R rated film, aren’t you sort of selling the book the wrong way. Granted a book is generally better than a film, but the book is telling you that sex sells. If sex sells why don’t you go full sex.
Since Fifty Shades is the first main stream adult erotica to command a lead on the bestsellers list. We have had softer erotica on the list, but in my understanding this is the most hardcore one that has been so widely read. At thirty-one million copies sold it is a known brand. People are embracing it and this leads to a cultural shift in American acceptance. Usually in America sex is behind closed doors and we don’t discuss it. Women are proudly proclaiming that they love this book and they are seen reading it.
With going full NC-17 filmmakers could in theory have the first blockbuster film with that rating. If you are not going to take the risk on that property, you are never going to do it. Theaters normally refuse to carry NC-17 films, but I think the hype and inertia around this series will force their hand. AMC and Regal don’t want to lose out independents that will be mopping up the profits from the extra greasy popcorn sold. Things would change.
I’m not saying that NC-17 movies need to be shown in every theater all the time. There is a time and a place for them. We are under the assumption that NC-17 means it is a porn film. In actuality very few porn movies bother going to the review process and are released unrated.
Mainstream films on the other hand might push to far with violence, sex, or comedy. When they do they are forced to re-cut the film (Clerks and the Saw movies come to mind). This creates an environment where filmmakers have a fear of what they can show if they want a release. The thought that you can’t make a movie NC-17 and have it make a profit shouldn’t be the norm.
Fifty Shades shouldn’t have an extremely large budget. Male leads will be guaranteed the sexiest man of the year when it comes out. I believe this that even if you would cast Carrot Top – he would still be on the cover as sexiest man alive. I think Carrot Top would hurt movie revenues for this film though. With Emma Watson rumored to play the female lead, this would capture of the attention of Reddit if their comments show their true interests.
So let’s look at the formula – you have a sexy erotic best-selling novel – you get a sexy male lead nude – you have a sexy erotic female lead – you are willing to go farther than an R-rating = PROFIT!
In the end, I don’t really have an interest in seeing the movie or reading the book. I don’t miss the cultural significance of the book or the line we could push with the movie. Come on Hollywood, let’s make history and release an NC-17 movie that has a chance of breaking a hundred million at the box office.