Many studios have faced hard decisions over the years when deciding whether to release a comedy with an R-rating or to go for the PG-13. You either neuter some of the jokes and aim for a wider audience, or you maintain the edgy humour and hope that it generates enough good buzz to make up for it. All along it’s been pretty clear that Bruno would receive an R-rating in the U.S. (its initial submission to the MPAA received an NC-17), but the problem is that Sacha Baron Cohen’s humour and the marketing for the film seemed to appeal to a slightly younger demographic. The result is that some parents have taken their kids to see the movie and ended up being quite disturbed by what they saw.
Over in the U.K., the movie received an 18 certificate, meaning that no one under the age of 18 is permitted to see it — with or without adult accompaniment. Bruno notched the highest grossing opening weekend in the UK of all time for an 18-certified comedy, but still theatres reportedly had to turn away under-age fans in droves. It is for this reason that Universal Pictures has decided for the first time ever to release a second cut of the film with a 15 certificate in theatres simultaneously. It will be 1 minute and 50 seconds shorter than the original version.
While this might seem a bit sketchy, it’s also a pretty smart business move, and to be honest, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been done before (aside from the fact that it might call into question the integrity of the film). Now I’m wondering, would they ever do such a thing in the U.S.? If the box office drops off as much next weekend as they are predicting it will, it might be a wise move. Then again, an R-rating in the U.S. isn’t quite as strict. What do you think, is an edited version of Bruno a good idea or does it compromise the movie?