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For better or for worse, the Fifty Shades franchise is a bit of a one trick pony. It's a sexual series designed to elicit a sexual response, and that can create problems in markets where censors crack down on sexual content. On that note, it turns out that Fifty Shades Darker was even banned in India, but probably not for the reason you would guess. Instead of the country simply being mad about the nudity, it was banned because the country's rating system is not equipped to handle the amount of nudity and sexual content in the film. India's Central Board Of Film Certification explained:
Fifty Shades Darker stands banned. Even in the US it was granted an 'R' rating and in the UK it was given an '18' rating. In India we do not have 'R' or '18'. The closest we have to these ratings is a 'PG' which is not suitable for a film based on the subject of sex.
According to The Central Board Of Film Certification's comments about Fifty Shades Darker's ban (via The Quint), the film simply couldn't meet any real requirements that exist in India. Although Fifty Shades Darker perfectly matches the nudity and sex requirements for an R-rating in America or an 18 rating in the United Kingdom, India doesn't have a rating that the sexy sequel could match with its content. You have to hand it to the cast and crew; they set out to make an erotic thriller, and they certainly succeeded.
As it turns out, there was a way for Universal to sidestep the ban and get Fifty Shades Darker released in India without a major hassle. All the studio had to do was remove the film's sex scenes and nudity. That said, can you imagine watching a Fifty Shades story without any of the more salacious content? That would be like sitting down to eat a sandwich but removing all of the meat, cheese, and condiments; you're only left with dry bread.
One thing that's worth noting is the fact that it's not uncommon for a rating board to change its practices in the face of a film that it's not equipped to handle. Although Fifty Shades Darker received a ban in India due to the lack of a rating to cope with it, other evaluation boards have invented grades to more closely adhere to the content of a movie. Perhaps most notably, the PG-13 rating was created for American audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America following outrage against The Temple of Doom receiving a PG rating, and Red Dawn subsequently became the first film to get a PG-13 rating in 1984. Are we saying Fifty Shades Darker should force India to create a new rating to accommodate it? Not necessarily, but there's precedent.
This controversy isn't the first time Fifty Shades Darker has grabbed headlines, as the film has experienced some bizarre incidents in the markets where it received a release. From people leaving cucumbers behind in theaters after attending screenings of the movie, to a French man being arrested for masturbating in his theater while watching the movie, the latest Fifty Shades movie has certainly experienced one of the weirder releases in recent memory. Perhaps The Central Board of Film Certification saved Indian audiences from having to see some genuinely weird stuff in their theaters.
Of course, Fifty Shades Darker is still playing in American markets, so make sure to check it out while you still can.