Home | Based on the Book | Will E.L. James’ Kinky Sex Adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey be Rated NC-17?
Fifty Shades of Grey

Will E.L. James’ Kinky Sex Adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey be Rated NC-17?

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Fifty Shades of GreyIt’s inevitable that Hollywood would want to make a movie based on E. L. James’ S&M bestsellerFifty Shades of Grey.” That’s what Hollywood does, after all. And with the buzz about the book since it first hit store and cyber-shelves, filmmakers see visions of piles of money.

Universal says they’d like to get the film in theaters by the summer of 2014, but who knows how it will, ahem, go down?

Anway, sex puns aside, the studio paid a reported $5 million for the rights to the kinky book series last year, and there were rumblings that Angelina Jolie had expressed interest in directing.

More recently, it was confirmed that screenwriter Kelly Marcel (“Saving Mr. Banks”) is writing the script, and Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson has revealed a few more tidbits about the film and addresses concerns that a release date delay might be reflected at the box office. After all, people will have moved on to the next kinky book series by the time a “Fifty Shades” movie hits theaters.

“I certainly understand why some people might take that point of view,” Fogelse said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “but I don’t believe that [James] had any interest in going to a studio where rushing it into production was the vision. I don’t believe that the second or third film would have benefited from that strategy. And I think that there are totally legitimate questions about what this book is as a movie. I will tell you that it is an absolute priority for us. It’s conceivable that we could be ready to release it as early as next summer.”

Ok, so a summer 2014 release date means they’d probably have to kick production into gear pretty soon. And as of today, there are still no stars or director attached.

When asked whether the Jolie rumors were true, Fogelson answered, “No. We’re involved in a different project with her [the WWII drama "Unbroken"]. But we have had really, really interesting, great conversations with talented, serious filmmakers.”

My next question is, how will the film be rated? It seems to me they’re going to have to do some serious re-thinking of the book if they want to sneak in under an R rating. But really, the book as is could probably easily score an NC-17 rating, right?

Here’s how the MPAA describes an NC-17 rating:  No One 17 and Under Admitted. An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean “obscene” or “pornographic” in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.

Here’s a list of NC-17 rated films, but many of these were re-edited for an R rating (to get more viewers into the theaters).

NC-17 rated movies take a huge portion of the viewing audience out of the equation — even adults. How many adults generally go to NC-17 movies? And those movies historically don’t make a ton of money, which is almost always the bottom line with filmmakers, studios and distributors.

Will you go see “Fifty Shades of Grey” on the big screen? Will you still see it if it’s rated NC-17? 

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

Jane Boursaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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