Bruno has been slapped with an NC-17 rating 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 Universal Pictures.
These scenes include Bruno appearing 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.
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.”
But Cohen needs to deliver an R-rated film to Universal, which will not consider releasing an NC-17 “Bruno,” according to an executive there.
The difference between an R and an NC-17 in terms of financial reward is vast. “Borat,” which cost a piddling $18 million to make, took in $261 million in worldwide box office. Universal paid $42 million for the English-language rights to “Bruno,” but will spend far more than that in marketing the film. Major Hollywood studios almost never release films with NC-17 ratings.
Cohen is currently appealing the decision while simultaneously struggling with cutting the film to suit the ratings board. But the ratings board, a secret panel of parents appointed by the studio-owned movie association, is notoriously inexact about what it requires to move from an NC-17 to an R.
Baron Cohen has butted heads with the MPAA before. Borat was given an NC-17 on its first go-round, and still ended up with a hilarious, outrageous scene in which he wrestled naked with his obese driver, ending up with his face in the man’s genitals and anus.
The spokesman said that Baron Cohen had shot a lot of material, and would be able to cut it without a problem. “With the quantity of material available, I cannot foresee a problem,” said the spokesman. “It’s not even April and the film comes out July 10 so it’s nonsense to say there’s a struggle of any kind.”