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Sex addict drama 'Shame' has solid debut despite NC-17 rating

December 4, 2011 |  1:18 pm

Shame got off to a solid start at the box office
Despite its restrictive NC-17 rating, "Shame" had a solid debut at the box office this weekend.

The drama, which stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict, grossed $361,181, according to an estimate from distributor Fox Searchlight. Its per-theater average of $36,118 is the third-highest for an NC-17 film in limited debut, behind Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" and Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution."

“NC-17 films always create a challenge, but the late shows were very strong,” said Sheila DeLoach, the studio’s executive vice president. “With the midnight shows being sold out, it’s encouraging that we’ll do well with a young, edgy audience.”

Searchlight is planning to expand the film from 10 to 19 theaters next weekend, but it remains to be seen how wide of a reach the picture will have. Cinemark, the nation's No. 3 theater chain, has a policy against showing NC-17 rated movies. The No. 4 chain, Carmike, has yet to book "Shame."

But exhibitor policies don't worry DeLoach, she said: “I don’t think that’s really going to impact the box office of the film.”

"Shame" is the first NC-17 film to be released nationally since 2007's "Lust, Caution," which ended up grossing $4.6 million. The top-grossing NC-17 film of all time is "Showgirls," about a dancer in Las Vegas, which collected $20.4 million in 1995.

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— Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Michael Fassbender stars in "Shame." Credit: Fox Searchlight

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