In a decision that will be go down as the great embarrassment of our generation and cause cinephiles of the future to wonder what the hell we were thinking, Cinemark, the #3 theatre chain in the country, has pulled the indie film equivalent of starting a Support Prop 8 campaign, by banning Fox Searchlight’s “Shame” from their theatres. The company no doubt wanted to make sure there were enough screens for “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” to play in every one of their theatres, nationwide, simultaneously.
The company has released a statement in support of their decision: “Cinemark exhibits a wide variety of films for diverse audiences and will continue to do so. However, Cinemark as a company has a longstanding policy against showing NC-17 rated movies. Since ‘Shame’ is rated NC-17, Cinemark has made the decision not to play the movie in our theatres.”
There is, of course, no mention as to the reasoning behind Cinemark’s “long standing policy against showing NC-17 rated movies.” How longstanding could this policy be? What NC-17 films have tried to gain the Cinemark stamp of approval? “Showgirls”? “The Dreamers”? “Lust, Caution”? That’s pretty much it.
Cinemark either has no faith in their ushers’ ability to do their jobs and properly monitor who goes in and out of each theatre, or they think their patrons are too stupid not to understand what an NC-17 rating means, which would actually be understandable, since the company has never tried to educate anyone about it.
Movie theatres are forced to screen so much garbage throughout the year. The release of "Shame" was—and still could be—a real opportunity for Cinemark to wield some power and influence in the industry, by openly embracing a movie that is mature, made for adults and yes, rated NC-17. Instead of seeing it as an opportunity to shed the rating of its stigma as a stamp from smut, Cinemark has cowered behind an arbitrary company policy that will only reinforce studios and filmmakers to think twice about taking on challening or creative films that aren't based on toys/board games/cereal/whatever. Cinemark: you blew it.
The film opens in limited release today and will begin rolling out across the country in the weeks to come. Cinemark aside, the studio isn't worried about getting screens for the movie. "Every major city in America will play 'Shame,'" Fox Searchlight president Steve Gilula said. "I have no concerns. We've had no limitations getting the film where we wanted it." Get another taste of what's to come with a brand new clip from the film below. [LA Times]