“It will be NC-17. It’s going to be raunchy. We are 100 per cent going there."
Usually that's a promise from someone making an indie movie that needs a dirty rating to get attention, or a raunchy comedy that will eventually be cut down to get an R rating and make more money. But that quote comes from Kelly Marcel, the screenwriter hired for Focus Features' adaptation of the blockbuster book series Fifty Shades of Grey. Marcel spoke to The Telegraph in the UK about her adaptation, sharing a minimum of plot details but promising, over and over again, "a lot of sex," and ending with the wish, "The fans love this book, and I want them to love the film as much. I want to make them laugh and cry, to turn them on. I want this to do everything.”
As you know from the millions of silly jokes about Fifty Shades, fans do indeed love the book because of the huge amount of sex in it, and surely plenty of them are worried that the BDSM scenes will be lightened up to make the movie palatable for more audiences. But based on Marcel's bold claim, the studio may actually be going full-force into the realm of NC-17, a rating that's typically seen as a death blow for any movie. Plenty of theater chains can refuse to book a film with an NC-17 ratings, and your options are incredibly limited for advertising a film with that rating on TV and in newspapers. When an indie film like Blue Valentine gets an NC-17, its box office is likely to dip drastically.
But Fifty Shades of Grey is no indie movie, and the amount of fan fervor that's likely to surround the film means the studio can do virtually anything they want and still draw a crowd on opening weekend. With the power of online marketing and especially word of mouth, Focus Features can make Fifty Shades a hit no matter the rating-- and if Marcel's vision holds firm, they could be behind the first NC-17 movie in the modern era to become a genuine blockbuster. The studio stood firm behind Ang Lee's Lust, Caution when it was slapped with an NC-17, and saw that film make just $4 million domestically (plus another $62 million overseas, which will show you just how damaging the American puritanism about sex can be). An NC-17 Fifty Shades of Grey could change the meaning of the rating forever-- if Focus really is bold enough to let it go there.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend
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