Brüno is going to get a 15-certificate version that will play alongside the 18-certificate one that topped the UK box office this weekend.
Universal have decided that a key segment of the audience was missing out on the film and (presumably) that it was a great opportunity to keep the publicity going.
Over the last weekend it grossed just over £5 million at 457 locations, making it the best debut for an 18 rated film since Hannibal in February 2001.
It didn’t quite match the opening of Borat, which opened in November 2006 with £6.24m, although that included previews which grossed nearly a £1 million.
The 15-certificate version of Bruno will be released on 24th July for the benefit of teenage fans.
David Kosse, the president of Universal Pictures UK, has admitted that the distributor had originally hoped to get a 15 but wouldn’t make the ‘substantial cuts’ in order to do so.
The three scenes which have been trimmed are:
- The sequence where Bruno is miming graphic sexuals acts with a dead member of Milli Vanilli that he has ‘contacted’ through a medium
- The sex scene early in the film with his boyfirend and all manner of sex toys
- The swingers party sequence
This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version.
The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive an ’18’ classification but that the requested ’15’ certificate could be achieved by making changes to three scenes.
In particular the BBFC suggested that the company remove the majority of a montage of exaggerated sexual activity between Bruno and his boyfriend; Bruno comically miming fellatio and anilingus as he pretends to have oral sex with a deceased person with whom he is in contact through a medium; and sex between couples at a swingers’ party and aggressive sexual dialogue at the same party.
When this version of the feature was submitted these changes had been made and the film was classified ’15’.
A previous version of the feature was submitted without these changes and was classified at ’18’.
In total about 1 minute, 50 seconds have been taken out of the 18 version in order make the new certificate.
Kosse has said:
“Over the past couple of weeks we got a lot of feedback from exhibitors and fans on Facebook. So we investigated what it would take to get a 15.”
“We saw an opportunity to service the audience … and it should also help with the gross.”
The big question this raises is whether this was all planned in advance. Given how smart the marketing has been for the film I suspect it may have been.
Interestingly, Universal doesn’t plan to make similar cuts in other overseas markets (including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) because they have had significantly lower ratings in those countries.
In the U.S. and Canada, where it was rated R, Bruno had a solid opening of $30.6 million, although business fell sharply on the Saturday which suggests some audiences were a little freaked out by what they saw.