What’s admirable about this rating is that the film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight Pictures backed up McQueen and refused to re-cut the film, wearing the NC-17 rating for its limited U.S. theatrical release in December, 2011. “Shame” is also in the programming line-up for the Starz Denver Film Festival, screening Wednesday, November 09, 9:15 p.m. at the King Center on Auraria Campus.
“Shame” will wear its NC-17 rating like a badge of honor, as Fox Searchlight 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.”
As Russ Fischer, on /Film said, “By my count, only 19 movies have been given (and accepted) the NC-17 rating since 2000. Of those, far fewer have gone into theaters.” For a film like “Shame” that darkly deals with a theme like sex-addiction, an NC-17 rating can only give it serious street-cred and will send anyone who was going to see it anyway, rushing to the theater. In actuality, the NC-17 rating may also prevent any unwarranted critics or overly concerned journalists from putting a shock value on the film. The rating sanctions the film to be what it is and doesn’t compromise artistic decisions made by a filmmaker like McQueen.
This isn’t new territory for Fox Searchlight Pictures either, as the studio released Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” in 2004 with an NC-17 rating and it raked in $2.5 million at the box office.