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Sex is no longer mantra for success

Last updated on: April 07, 2004 14:57 IST

Finding Nemo: a great wholesome hitIf Trent Walker (played by Vince Vaughn) of Doug Liman's cult favourite Swingers were asked to comment about sex in Hollywood films today, this is what he would say: 'Sex's dead, baby, sex's dead.'

The harsh truth for all those convinced that sex is a ticket to box-office success is that it is not. A report in The Telegraph, London, says films containing explicit sex and nudity earn about 40 per cent less than other mainstream movies.

Here's more on the study that was compiled for the viewers' campaign group, Christian Film and Television Commission, and published in its monthly magazine Movieguide:

  • 1,120 films analysed over four years.
  • Films like Finding Nemo or Toy Story 2 grossed about $41.1 million, while films with sex grossed about $16.7 million. Also, films with 'immoral or negative content', like Hannibal or the American Pie trilogy would, on an average, earn about 38 per cent less than the wholesome entertainers.
  • In 2003, films not containing sex earned more than double those that did. In 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with a PG (parental guidance) rating, with some kissing scenes, earned £13 million in the UK. That was about 46 per cent less than Spider-Man, with zero sex scenes, which earned £28 million.
  • Most of the big earners of 2001 had a message, and had themes of redemption and uplifting storylines.
  • In 2003, 78 films with no sex earned $37.6 million, 95 films with implied sex earned $32.1 million, 71 films with brief sex scenes earned $25 million, and 35 films with bold sex averaged only $17.1 million.

Dr Ted Baehr, chairman, Christian Film and Television Commission, was quoted in The Telegraph as saying, "This is a worldwide phenomenon. We found that international figures followed the same logic, that the good guys finish first. Clearly, sex does not sell as well as the mass media wants us to believe.

Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ succeeded because it struck a strong moral chord"We've shown that there are big audiences for films that meet the family criteria. The other attraction for moviemakers is that it costs less to make a character-driven drama than a big blowup starring Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Now, Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ with its $300 million gross seems to have proved that films with a moral overtone do strike a strong chord within the audience.

Sheridan Morley, broadcaster and critic, believes that British audiences no longer want action thrillers, and that Hollywood is 'out of touch with what the audience wants'.

She told The Telegraph: "Films have been totally mechanised in recent years and are no longer about people. Now we've got so hi-tech that we've lost the sense of real human relationships. Cinema needs to get back to people."

rediff Entertainment Bureau