With the lead casting problems resolved, and the first wave of publicity stills unveiled, the film version of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey is full steam ahead. Production will begin soon, heading toward release on February 13, 2015. But will the movie be made available in a raunchy, NC-17 version?
Universal's Focus Features division is committed to releasing the film wide in an R-rated version. Producer Dana Brunetti, however, has his own ideas, telling Collider:
"This is just my opinion and this doesn’t mean this is going to happen, but I always thought it would be really cool if we released the R version and then we had an NC-17 version that we released a few weeks later. So everybody could go and enjoy the R version, and then if they really wanted to see it again and get a little bit more gritty with it then have that NC-17 version out there as well."
Kelly Marcel wrote the screenplay, and months ago she had the impression the film would receive the more restrictive rating:
"There is going to be a lot of sex in the film. It will be rated NC-17."
So there's every possibility that the film will be shot as it was written, with more explicit scenes intact, and then edited in order to secure an R rating. Producer Brunetti thinks fans want the film to be "dirty":
"What we’re kind of hearing from the fans is they want it dirty, they want it as close as possible [to the book]. We want to keep it elevated but also give the fans what they want.”
Brunetti thinks that the studio would financially benefit as well from the "double dip," which is an intriguing thought. Focus previously released Ang Lee's Lust, Caution in its original NC-17 version in theaters, and it made out fairly well for a foreign-language release, earning $4.6 million. More recently, the French lesbian romance Blue Is the Warmest Color has been winning critical acclaim and doing very decent box office numbers, with its sex scenes and NC-17 rating intact. But both of those films had much lower budgets and expectations; they didn't face intense scrutiny, at least not on the level of the Fifty Shades movie.
It may be that the devoted fan base that made Fifty Shades of Grey a best seller will turn out in droves to see the movie and will be happy to see it again with all the "dirty bits" restored. If nothing else, though, it seems that the filmmakers have in mind making the raunchier version at some point, whether it's in theaters or later on home video. The latter is the more conventional -- and fiscally conservative -- route taken.
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