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‘Blurred’ and ‘blocked’, ‘Fifty Shades’ not in SM Cinemas due to MTRCB rating

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in a scene from 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

“Fifty Shades of Grey”, the controversial film adaptation of E.L. James’ bestselling novel depicting BDSM sexual practices (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) is finally hitting Philippine theaters this Wednesday, February 11.

“This movie was classified as is and in its entirety with noticeable BLURS and SCREEN BLOCKS introduced by the film producer prior to its submission for review. The public is advised of some scenes of nudity, strong and/or sexual language, and sexual aberrational behavior with elements of bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism,” went the disclaimer of the Movie and Television Review Classification Board as contained in a communiqué furnished to InterAksyon by distributor United International Pictures.

But despite such efforts by UIP to sanitize the film, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was still slapped with an R-18 (Strictly for Adults Only) rating by the MTRCB. That essentially means that it will not be shown in SM Cinemas, the largest film exhibitor in the Philippines with 273 screens in 48 branches nationwide.

“Because of its R18 MTRCB rating, we won’t show Fifty Shades of Grey in our cinemas. This is in accordance with the company’s policy not to screen films containing themes, language, violence, nudity and sex that may not be suitable for children below 18 years of age,” went SM Cinemas’ reply to a Facebook follower who wondered why SM won’t be showing the film.

Back in December during the launch of the video-in-demand service, Blink, SM Lifestyle and Entertainment president Edgar Tejerero had expressed optimism that “Fifty Shades of Grey” would get an R-16 rating that would allow it to be screened in SM Cinemas. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

But even with its R-18 rating and the “blurs” and “blocks” that will likely elicit screams of “harang!” (a Tagalog slang uttered by male moviegoers in reference to sexy movies that fall short of hyped expectations), many are still expected to check out the film and wonder what the fuss is all about.

A provocative love story that deals with sexual explorations and its supposed limitations, “Fifty Shades of Grey” tackles the burgeoning relationship between enigmatic 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and sexually uninitiated college senior Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).

Two sequels have already been announced for the film which, despite the controversies, is expected to be a blockbuster franchise. Fandango, a U.S. company that sells movie tickets via telephone and the internet, reported that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is “the fastest-selling R-rated movie title” in its 15-year history.

The film is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.