Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Fantasy Three-Way

This report on the fretting about Atom Egoyan's new movie's potential NC-17 rating is hysterically funny in its duplicity. To wit:
An explicit sex scene involving two men and a woman in Canadian director Atom Egoyan's latest movie is expected to earn the film a prohibitive rating in the U.S. that, if sustained, will "severely limit" its box office there, Mr. Egoyan predicted yesterday. . . .

. . . given what Mr. Egoyan calls "the very conservative climate in America," he and the film's North American distributor, Toronto-based ThinkFilm Inc., "strongly suspect" it will be rated NC-17. This means no one 17 years of age or under in the U.S. will be allowed admission, even if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

While "Where the Truth Lies" has some tough violence, nudity, lesbian encounters and drug-taking, it is a sex scene involving stars Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon and the film's female lead, 29-year-old Rachel Blanchard, that seems to be giving U.S. adjudicators trouble -- something U.S. observers told Mr. Egoyan he might expect after the movie's world premiere in May at the Cannes film festival.

"I guess I'm naive; I really had no idea it would be a problem," the director said at that time. . . .

But besides restricting the audience, an NC-17 classification likely would limit the marketing potential of the movie in the United States. . . . As a result, "that severely limits the commercial opportunities of the film," Mr. Egoyan said.

Break me a fucking give. This is Atom Egoyan we're talking about here, not Rob Cohen. An NC-17 rating is not going to hamper his box office performance because his movies never make any money!

Egoyan's last four full-length feature films have done the following business:

Ararat - $1.5 million
Felicia's Journey - $820,000
The Sweet Hereafter - $4.3 million
Exotica - $5.1 million

That's not opening weekend, that's total domestic gross. In real, constant dollars, the economic impact to Egoyan of an NC-17 versus an R will be about $3.75. If he's really broken up about it, I'll treat him to a Venti Frappuccino and we'll call it even.

Pile on top of this Egoyan's theatrical fretting that an NC-17 will keep the lucrative teenage demographic away from his movie, as if the crowd that goes to see Bad Boys II was really looking forward to Egoyan's precious art film.

And let's not even touch Egoyan's ludicrous worry that it's the "very conservative climate" in George Bush's fascist police state that's contributing to the MPAA's rating. (We all know that the MPAA is just another one of Karl Rove's puppet organizations.) I'll just say that, without having seen Mr. Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, movies with tough violence, nudity, drug-taking, and graphic sex are precisely why the NC-17 rating was invented.

Of course Egoyan must know all of this. But how could he be expected to pass up a chance to preen and play the martyr.


Anonymous said...

Oh, please. I saw this movie. It was called Wild Things. Tart it up, art it up, Iota Meyan.

As you note, this is hardly Clerks getting potentially killed by an NC-17. It's an obscure art flick that will remain an obscure art flick. Like all Egoyan movies. It's "Direct to IFC!" on "Censored by the Bushitler Junta" week!

Anonymous said...

An NC-17 rating will limit its theatrical run? Too bad. Maybe it'll do better on DVD. I mean, it's not like this film will be competing with millions upon millions of other pieces of sexually explicit entertainment in trying to find an audience.

Oh, wait ...

Anonymous said...

Say what you want about this nonsense, but Egoyan's "Sweet Hereafter" was a beautiful movie.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Sweet Hereafter is exactly the kind of movie that should be made about the Sept. 11 attacks. It is a film made with an abiding compassion for characters beset by the most unjust misfortune.

But instead of that, we're going to get action flicks on the them of "let's roll."

As to the movie at hand, it seems to me that it's not so much the rating as public knowledge that they will have to watch Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon have sex with (or perhaps just near) each other that will keep people away. I mean, who would pay money to see that? If we were talking about George Clooney and Heath Ledger, then maybe the rating would be the problem.

Anonymous said...

All this is fine, but is Rachal Blanchard hot?


Anonymous said...

How did Oiver Stone's Alexander the Great movie do at the box office? Is there any consensus about whether the homosexual themes hurt or helped it financially? Stone made similar complaints about conservative America before his film was released, and I wonder if Egoyan is responding in some way to Stone's PR strategy or "Alexander"'s receipts.

And, yeah, "Sweet Hereafter" was a good film.

Anonymous said...

"Alexander" tanked badly in the U.S., but did a little better overseas. The movie was awful, and that had more to do with its failure than its idiotic approach to Alexander's sexuality. (The romantic scenes between Alexander and his lover Hephaestion could've been scored with "Puppy Love." Stone simply did not understand that sexuality 2,300 years ago was a different animal than it is today.)

That's not to say the gay stuff didn't hurt, but "The Birdcage," "Will and Grace," et. al. demonstrate that people are willing to look past it.

Brian Moore