By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 30, 2009 at 3:57AM
The Wrap is reporting that "Bruno," the anticipated Sacha Baron Cohen docu-comedy set to open this July, has been given an NC-17 rating based on its first submission to the Motion Picture Association of America because of "numerous sexual scenes that the ratings board considers over the line," according to the studio releasing the film.
"Among the objectionable scenes," notes The Wrap, "is one in which Bruno -- a gay Austrian fashionista played by Baron Cohen -- appears to have anal sex with a man on camera. In another, the actor goes on a hunting trip and sneaks naked into the tent of one of the fellow hunters, an unsuspecting non-actor. A Universal spokesman confirmed the rating on Sunday, saying: 'On its first submission the film did not receive an R but it is far too early to say that there is any struggle to get there as the process is only at its inception.'"
The article also reports that individuals close to the film say that Baron Cohen, is “experimenting” and still “finding the film,” tesing two different versions with audiences in the past week. Both screenings "were very successful."
But according to an executive at Universal, Cohen "needs to deliver" an R-rated film.
The highest grossing NC-17 rated film is MGM's 1995 "Showgirls," which grossed $20,350,754. Universal paid $42 million for the English-language rights to "Bruno," and will spend far more than that in marketing the film. So its more than likely that the film will get cut down until it receives the rating, and the original submission will be present on the "Bruno" DVD.
Spout's Christopher Campbell wondered if "Universal and Sacha Baron Cohen obviously pushed the envelope in order to both see how much they could get away with and to draw attention to themselves with a desired NC-17." "Hasn’t anyone been following Hollywood the past 10 years," he asks, noting the "benefits to both garnering the unacceptable rating and having news of that “unfortunate” rating leaked to all the fanboy bloggers":
"Typical outrage over the MPAA’s dealings guarantee postings (including this one), which continue to give attention to the film; Excitement over how hard the ultimate R-rating will likely be continues the interest from moviegoers interested in raunchy content. And if they’re upset that it won’t be as dirty as the original NC-17 version they can always...; ...look forward to the Unrated DVD release, which will most definitely include the censored “objectionable” scenes either in the movie or as supplement material."
Universal offered a more obvious publicity stunt a few weeks ago, giving a 22 minute sneak peak at a rough assemblage of footage from “Bruno" at the SXSW Film Festival. indieWIRE reported that the sneak "had the crowd laughing loudly": "The heartiest laughter came from the third scene, the infamous caged wrestling match that made national news when Cohen and another actor portrayed fighters who end up stripping down and making out in the ring in front of 1600 Arkansas wrestling fans. Angered by the stunt, the crowd turned on them and began hurling beer and even a chair. In the current cut Sunday, the on-screen scene was set to Elton John’s "Can You Feel The Love Tonight.'"