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

Steve Chiotakis Dec 5, 2011

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.

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