Fox Searchlight's US distribution deal with Shame specified that the studio would not re-edit the movie for a lower-rating even though it's almost certainly going to get an NC-17. The movie, which follows the downward spiral of a sex addict
(played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender), features copious sex and nudity with a sprinkling of implied incest.
There are multiple challenges to marketing an NC-17 movie. Most networks won't air promos for an NC-17 film (at least not during
primetime), newspapers are wary of buying ads for NC-17 movies, and even theaters aren't eager to show NC-17 movies because it's adults only. This allows for stupid folks to come out an accuse the theater of not being family friendly.
Shame has been very well received wherever it has been shown on the festival circuit, so Fox will market the film on the strength of good reviews and word of mouth. It has a good start as it picked up awards at the Venice Film Festival for Best Film and
Shame isn't going to open with a wide release. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 2nd, which means that the studio will only have to rely on newspaper ad buys in those cities. Fox will also put a green-band (suitable for
all ages) trailer into theaters.
The Fox studio 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.