The controversy over Dakota Fanning’s Oscar bait project Hounddog began way back in 2006 when rumors started swirling that the film would feature Dakota stripped nude for a rape scene. The furor over the film hasn’t died down, even though people who’ve actually seen it insist that this is not the case at all. Instead, scoopers call it a “tasteful” rape scene. Er, is that possible?

After all the outrage over the rumored content of the movie, Hounddog has lingered, finished, sitting on a shelf somewhere with no one to release it. Until now that is. Coming Soon says Empire Film Group has acquired the North American distribution rights to the film, and they’re planning to make it widely available. They’ll release it on July 18 in 500 theaters, and support it with a significant marketing campaign. They’re estimating it’ll make $15 million at the box office, which makes sense, as long as they can keep the controversy going. There’s no such thing as bad publicity after all.

Keeping people pissed off may be hard to do though. The movie is getting a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, which ought to quiet all those outraged claims that Dakota will be naked in it. The MPAA doesn’t hand out PG-13 ratings to movies with naked little kids being raped in them. And it’s gotten an endorsement from RAINN, the Rape and Incest National Network (imagine the business cards). I suspect the controversy is about to be over with.

Then there’s Dakota herself, who is now less of a star than she was back when people first raged out over the content of the film. I think we’re all sort of over the whole Dakota Fanning thing now, and ready to move on to whoever the next Halley Joel Osment clone is. Hounddog may actually need to be good in order to get people to see it. What a strange notion.

For more information on the film, check out our preview.

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