'Fifty Shades' goes global, but film too hot for some countries

Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:20pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The steamy novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a global phenomenon, but fans in China and other countries will not be able to see the movie version in theaters even though the sex scenes have has been toned down for the big screen.

The film adaptation opened this week in 57 international markets, including France, where it was declared suitable for anyone 12 or older.

The movie tells the story of a sexual relationship between a wealthy businessman and a college student and includes scenes that depict whipping and bondage.

The distributor, Comcast Corp unit Universal Pictures, is not pursuing a theatrical release in China - the world's second-largest film market - according to a source with knowledge of the studio's plans who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sexually explicit films generally do not make it past Chinese government censors.

Three countries that often object to sexual content - Malaysia, Indonesia and Kenya - have banned "Fifty Shades" from theaters.

In Malaysia, the head of the film censorship board called it "more pornography than a movie," according to Hollywood trade publication Variety. The distributor in Indonesia said the film did not meet the country's censorship standards.

Kenyan authorities gave no reason for their ban but have a history of censoring sexually explicit content. They prohibited the 2013 blockbuster "The Wolf of Wall Street," a film that contains graphic depictions of sex and drugs.

At the film's London premiere, "Fifty Shades" author E.L. James said, "Oh, the book was banned in a few countries.   Continued...


A protester holds a placard to demonstrate against "Fifty Shades of Grey" at the film's UK premiere in London, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall