Can NC-17 movies make it at the box office?

Actor Michael Fassbender attends the 'Shame' premiere during the 68th Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Cinema on September 4, 2011 in Venice, Italy.

Steve Chiotakis: The new movie "Shame" opened over the weekend. It brought in more than $300,000. Doesn't sound like much for Hollywood, but it's the third largest take of any NC-17 rated movie in limited debut.

Amy Kaufman covers the box office for the LA Times. Hey Amy.

Amy Kaufman: Hey.

Chiotakis: How much of a challenge is it to sell an NC-17 movie?

Kaufman: You know, it can be a relatively big challenge. Obviously, the rating itself probably turns off a lot of more conservative movie goers who aren't interested in seeing something they imagine to have a lot of sexual or racy content. And then, the nation's number three theater chain, Cinemark, has a policy where they don't even show NC-17 rated movies, so you can't even get the film to play in many cities. And that's clearly a big marketing challenge.

Chiotakis: Has it always been that way -- trying to sell a movie that's -- like you say -- racy? Don't people want to see really racy movies, or movies that have an edge?

Kaufman: You would think that, but actually a lot of the films that have done the best at the box office this year have been faith-based films. Right now, look at the top 10 movies -- more than half of them are family-based films that are PG rated. It might seem like we're more comfortable than ever with sex, but movie goers are showing up to more family-friendly films which speaks to something else.

Chiotakis: Do people really pay attention to this stuff? Do they look at ratings? I mean, I'm sure for their kids -- like parents do pay attention. But really, do you look at the NC-17 and think, well, I don't want really want to see that.

Kaufman: I think some people do do that. This movie on its surface, you see the plot description. "Shame," it's about a sex addict, so I think right there you know there's going to be a lot of sexual content; it's probably going to be explicit. And some people aren't interested in seeing what they consider to be maybe soft core porn, pretty much.

Chiotakis: Amy Kaufman, who covers the box office for the LA Times. Amy, thank you.

Kaufman: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.


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