Reel Blog

James Schamus explodes the myths of an NC-17 rating

Focus Features’ head and Lust, Caution screenwriter James Schamus was interviewed on KCRW’s The Business this afternoon and calmly and genially eviscerated every myth surrounding the NC-17 rating.

A few highlights:

  • Very few newspapers have refused ads for the movie.
  • Television advertising and standards & practices execs are eager to work with them should Focus choose to advertise on TV.
  • The two difficulties he cites are audience perceptions of a stigma surrounding the rating, and a single major theater chain that has a blanket policy against screening NC-17 films.

I highly recommend you listen. His take on the process is refreshing, light-hearted and hypocrisy-free.

The film has taken in $1.3 million through its third weekend in release and is playing in 77 locations in the top 20 markets.

Update: Two newspapers weigh in on Lust, Caution and NC-17.:

The Naperville Sun in Illinois wonders whether the film will play in the suburbs. The upshot?

In either case, it seems to be the audience, not the theaters, that will determine if an NC-17 film will be played in local venues. Like any other foreign, independent or art film, they will show it – but only if you come.

In the Hartford Courant, NATO president John Fithian continues his campaign for broader acceptance of the rating:

Fithian’s support for the rating is a matter of integrity.

“A lot of studios just require their filmmakers to produce a film that is not an NC-17. We think that is a mistake. By not using the rating appropriately, the pressure to cram films into the R rating is too great,” Fithian says. “What we see is filmmakers making just enough cuts in their movie to fit into an R.

“This damages the integrity of their movie and is a potential abuse of the rating system,” he continued. “As a consequence, the R rating is too broad. The soft end of R and the hard end of R are too different. If NC-17 were used correctly, ratings would make a lot more sense.”