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No shame in this opening

The NC-17-rated 'Shame,' which stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict, brings in $361,181.

December 05, 2011

No shame in opening

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 (in seven additional cities) 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. "I don't think that's really going to impact the box office of the film," she said.

"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.

Amy Kaufman

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