Ang Lee's Lust, Caution Gets an NC-17 Rating and Focus Keeps It!
Have we reached a new revolution in Hollywood?! Ever since 1990 when the NC-17 rating was first created by the MPAA, no major theater chain (big or small) has ever played an NC-17 film. There are a few exceptions, like This Film Is Not Yet Rated last year, but for the most part NC-17 films are looked down upon. Ang Lee's (Sense and Sensibility, The Hulk, Brokeback Mountain) new film, titled Lust, Caution in English, just received an NC-17 rating but Focus Features, the distributor, has decided to accept it and still release it!
Based on Eileen Change's short story about a shy Chinese drama student drawn into an assassination plot against a Japanese collaborator during WWII, the Chinese-language film stars Tony Leung and newcomer Tang Wei. It was rated NC-17 for its sexually explicitly content. Focus Features CEO James Schamus, who co-wrote the film, commented on their decision.
"As with so many of his previous films, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has crafted a masterpiece about and for grown-ups," Schamus said.
Typically when a film receives an NC-17 rating, the studio and filmmakers re-edit it to remove what the MPAA suggests and fight for an R rating. This time around Focus Features has decided to just leave it as is and release it. Most studios look at it as a risk to not get an R rating because no theater chains will play it and apparently newspaper are not even allowed to advertise it. This decision, however, I believe is brilliant and the first [giant] step towards a new revolution in Hollywood.
The film hits limited theaters on September 28th and expands on October 5th. It will probably only play in small indie chains, like Landmarks.
I'm incredibly impressed with this decision and Focus Features, they're pulling one of the bravest maneuvers in Hollywood. In this industry the movie theater corporations usually have the most power and always dictate certain decisions (like ratings). For once a studio is standing up against the chains and doing what they want. This is the type of thing that I hope will really make an impact, as long as the film performs fairly well. Bravo Focus Features - now everyone go out and see Lust, Caution!