Steve McQueen's 'Shame' is Now Officially Rated NC-17 by the MPAA
Is anyone surprised? The MPAA has officially rated (via RopeofSilicon) Steve McQueen's Shame, the "dark and erotic" New York City sex addict drama starring Michael Fassbender that debuted at the Telluride Film Fest (my review) and was picked up that weekend by Fox Searchlight, as NC-17. Earlier this year, I got in numerous discussions about whether or not the film, filled with full-frontal nudity and sex galore, would actually get an NC-17 or slip by with an R, but as expected, its been giving the "worst of the worst" - NC-17 (no children under 17 admitted at all). But Fox Searchlight is wearing this rating as a badge of honor.
A couple of weeks ago, when interviewed about the film and expected rating, Fox Searchlight's co-president Steve Gilula said, "I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner… The sheer talent of the actors and the vision of the filmmaker are extraordinary. It's not a film that everyone will take easily, but it certainly breaks through the clutter and is distinctive and original. It's a game changer." Having seen it, I can say that's for damn sure. And only a talented, smart, art house studio like Fox Searchlight could turn the rating like this into something that is creating buzz for the film itself. Could this turn out to be the first NC-17 success in years? Only time will tell.
Fox Searchlight currently has Shame set to hit limited theaters starting December 2nd this fall, with an awards season expansion as long as buzz is strong. Now that they have the official NC-17 rating, they have to be careful with marketing it. They can only show trailers in front of other R-rated movies, I don't know if they're even allowed to advertise on TV at all, and they'll have plenty of other restrictions under the watchful and controlling eye of the MPAA. But I'm excited to see how this all plays out, especially because Shame is one of my favorite films of the year, NC-17 rating or otherwise, and I hope everyone gets the chance to see it.