Fox Searchlight Embraces NC-17 Rating for 'Shame'

Since premiering at the Venice Film Festival in early September, the question of whether Fox Searchlight would fight the NC-17 rating for the Steve McQueen directed Shame has been up in the air.

The MPAA gave the film about Michael Fassbender’s sex addicted Manhattanite the rating based on some explicit sexual content. Normally studios would appeal to have the rating reduced to an R, for marketing and exhibition purposes. Most theaters are reluctant on screening NC-17 rated movies.
 
Last year, Blue Valentine faced a similar dilemma, initially receiving an NC-17 rating for a graphic oral sex scene between stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The rating was eventually overturned thanks to the campaigning of Harvey Weinstein and the film was allowed a wider release than the NC-17 would have permitted.
 
This time though, Fox Searchlight is embracing the rating, hoping to use it to spearhead acceptance of the rating and to help shake off the scarlet letter mentality of the rating.
 
"I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner," Fox Searchlight president Steve Gilula said.
 
Fox Searchlight will rely on word of mouth, targeted marketing and a less puritanical international market to try and sell tickets. The movie will receive an 18 rating in the UK, meaning no one under 18 will be allowed in, but Momentum Pictures managing director Xavier Marchand says, "there’s no stigma attached."
 
Will you be checking out Shame when it hits theaters December 2? Will the rating hurt the movie’s chances at drawing an audience as well as award nominations from the stuffy Academy members come awards time?
 

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