In Hollywood, there are a few ways to ensure that your movie won't reach a wide audience. Probably the most recognizable reason is it being stamped with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. Although the movie itself might be fantastic, it's still not a fate any director wants for their movie.
Unlike an R rating, with NC-17 there are absolutely, under no circumstances, any people under the age of 17 allowed in the theater. This narrows down the potential market of audiences by quite a bit. For those with eyes too young for erect male genitalia, some male on female fellatio, or simply those with more puritanical beliefs, paying $10 to see an NC-17 movie in theaters is pretty much out of the question.
To combat this, some filmmakers make edits to their films to scrape by with the far more acceptable R rating. Here are five movies that were forced to make changes to their salacious scenes in order to please the censors:
1. Basic Instinct (1992)
Sometimes the sex itself isn't the problem, but female sexuality overall. That seemed to be the case with Basic Instinct. No sex was cut from the movie, but clips of the foreplay were left on the cutting room floor. It might not seem like much, but a full 45 seconds of Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) giving oral pleasure to Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) was deemed too crude for audiences. Although controversial on a number of fronts for 1992, Basic Instinct still went on to become one of the most commercially successful films of the decade.
2. Monster's Ball (2001)
While still a critically acclaimed film for the uniquely dark storyline and the outstanding performances by Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton, Monster's Ball was still held under the MPAA's censorship microscope. Monster's Ball might have a lot of sex in it, but it's really used as a tool to give insight into the wretched lives of the main characters. Although the movie wasn't forced to cut down much, Director Marc Forster had to edit out one minute of the primal, animalistic sex scene between Hank and Leticia.
3. Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Although Boys Don't Cry was initially branded with an NC-17 rating, largely for its attention to a graphic double rape scene and the sex scene between Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny's characters. The film was edited and toned down for American audiences and eventually allowed to be released with an R rating.
4. Summer of Sam (1999)
The Spike Lee crime thriller Summer of Sam was nearly branded with an NC-17 rating for its explicit sex scenes and nudity. Specifically, Spike Lee was forced to cut down the sex scene between Dionna (Mira Sorvino) and Vinny (John Leguizamo) after they were turned away from a sex club.
5. Original Sin (2001)
The 2001 movie starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas is filled with steamy sex scenes to go along with their torrid relationship. Although a lot of risqué bits slipped through the cracks, director Michael Cristofer had to cut a full four minutes of Jolie and Banderas' sex for the movie to slip by with just an R.
For the most part, a lot of these movies were still extremely successful even with their edits. On a personal note, I hope we'll soon start taking a more European approach to film censorship.
Sex and nudity are natural parts of life, and cinema should be allowed to reflect that freely. If you don't like it, simply don't watch it! Heck, we're all naked under our clothes anyway, right? Answer: Yes.
(Source: The Atlantic)