MOVIES

The Eyes Wide Shut Changes That Saved The Movie From Being Rated NC-17

When it was announced that Warner Bros. would be altering “Eyes Wide Shut” to achieve an R rating, many critics came out to criticize the Motion Picture Association’s original NC-17 decision. Both New York- and Los Angeles-based critics demeaned the board for not allowing Stanley Kubrick’s final film to be seen in its intended form over something as simple as human sexuality. 

Terry Semel, then co-chairman of Warner Bros., defended the decision to alter the film, saying, “We’re not in the NC-17 business. When one looks at ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ perhaps there was not a huge difference between what would be an R, what would be an NC-17” (via The New York Times). Semel continued by saying that NC-17 films include pornographic pictures, something that Warner Bros. isn’t interested in releasing. In Semel’s defense, Kubrick was contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated picture, but seeing as Kubrick was — well — Kubrick, it’s difficult to know what the director would have done if he was alive. 

Filmmakers have always made changes to their films to appease the MPA and studios — Quentin Tarantino notably had to cut a scene from “Pulp Fiction” to avoid an NC-17 rating. Financially, R-rated pictures are far more marketable and culturally palatable than NC-17 films, which are largely considered obscure (some theaters don’t even screen them, considering them a death sentence). Take a look at the highest-grossing NC-17 films at the box office, and it’s clear that their financial hauls simply don’t match R-rated films. With an R rating, “Eyes Wide Shut” would go on to become a mild hit, making $162 million worldwide.

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