Ruh-roh. Looks like “Bruno,” Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie about a gay Austrian fashion guru, may land an NC-17 rating. The party-poopers of the Motion Picture Association of America weren’t amused by the raunchy sex in the film—like when Bruno mimics backdoor boinking with another dude.Universal Studios, who’ll release the movie, isn’t down with the NC-17 rating. While “Borat” made a Kazakhular $261 million in theaters, the average NC-17 movie makes less than $4 million. Uh, and they offend people. But execs don’t have their leather undies in a twist yet. The movie comes out in July, so there’s time to edit and get an R. That’s exactly what happened with “Borat”— which shed its original NC-17.
The Big Q: What makes a movie NC-17?
Back in the day, MPAA gave an X to films with strong adult content, like “Midnight Cowboy” and “A Clockwork Orange.” But then, porn makers stole the rating to make their movies seem extra juicy. Soon, newspapers and billboard renters stopped taking ads for actual X films. So in 1990, the MPAA dreamed up NC-17, short for “No Children 17 and Under Admitted.” “Showgirls” was one of the first big films to get the rating. And when the movie totally bombed (though we still love ya, Jessie Spano), the rating was deemed “box office poison.”
It’s hard to know the exact line between R and NC-17, because it’s up to to judgment of the 10-to-13 member MPAA Rating Board, who discuss films after viewing them and vote on a rating. “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 for viewing by their children,” says their website. As if anything shocks kids today.