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NC-17 Movie Shocking Sundance Will Cut Explicit Scenes Before Hitting Theaters

The film has generated some major buzz after a screening at the famous festival.

Each winter, the movie industry descends upon Park City, Utah, as it hosts the Sundance Film Festival. The star-studded 10-day gathering has become one of the top ways for studios to get their most ambitious films in front of influential audiences in the hopes of getting it picked up or generating buzz before a major release. And while there's never a shortage of potentially Oscar-worthy cinema on display, some of the attention it whips up can grab headlines for other reasons.

This year, that film is the forthcoming horror thriller Infinity Pool starring Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth, which shocked audiences during its premiere with graphic scenes featuring sex and violence. Now, it appears the NC-17 movie will cut some of its more explicit scenes before it hits theaters. Read on to see what was considered too much to keep in the final cut.

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The studio will cut a few explicit scenes from Infinity Pool before it hits theaters.

Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgard sitting by a beach in a scene in Infinity Pool

Creating a stir at Sundance is usually an easy way to drum up discussion before a mainstream release later in the year. But while critics and audiences have praised Infinity Pool for its bold approach and dedicated performances, it also shocked them with its use of incredibly graphic violence and sex that has ultimately led to a change in the film that will see its release in cinemas this month.

The movie is set at a beach resort on a fictional island, where a vacation for characters played by Skarsgard and Cleopatra Coleman takes a turn for the worse after a tragic accident. But in an interview with Collider, director Brandon Cronenberg said that certain scenes would be cut before the controversial movie makes its way to theaters. In particular, the unedited version screened at the festival on Jan. 22 included an incredibly explicit depiction of a sex act caught on camera, heavy drug use, and gory violence that earned it an NC-17 rating, the New York Post reports.

The version of the film making its way into theaters received an R rating.

Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, and Brandon Cronenberg attending a red carpet event for Infinity Pool at the Sundance Film Festival
Getty / Frazer Harrison

However, audiences may find the film that makes its way to their local cinema is slightly less graphic. The studio plans to release a scaled-back R-rated version of the movie for its theatrical release in the U.S.

According to the filmmaker, the problem has more to do with the rules behind the rating system than offending moviegoers.

"The U.S. has a sort of particular issue because of the NC-17 rating," Cronenberg told Collider in an interview. "NC-17 was an attempt to rebrand the X rating, but they didn't do it successfully, and it came with all this stigma. You can't actually market a film if it's an NC-17 rating. So specifically in the U.S., that means that you can't really have a theatrical release of any size."

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The director says he has no qualms about releasing the tamer version of the movie in theaters.

Two masked figures on the red carpet for the premiere of Infinity Pool at the Sundance Film Festival
Getty / Frazer Harrison

Even within the relatively loose confines of the film industry, part of the storytelling process involves the creative freedom to be able to express yourself without restraint. But despite being told to scrub some of his film's more intense scenes, Cronenberg said it was more or less part of the plan all along to do so and that the finished product is still worthy of the ticket price for admission.

"I knew that going into it, and it's not a problem everywhere and usually there's a plan to release the full film," he told Collider. "The R-rated version isn't hugely different, I should say. I would love people to just see it in theaters and not worry about the versioning. It's fine."

The actors involved with the film are also enthusiastic about the project and how it will be received.

Actor Alexander Skarsgard at the red carpet premiere for a movie
Shutterstock / lev radin

While over-the-top sex or violence in a film can sometimes be a liability for a project, it can also sometimes be an asset. In fact, the actors starring in Infinity Pool said its boldness is part of what drew their interest to sign on.

"There's a lot of conformity and monotony when you read scripts," said Skarsgard—who also signed on as an executive producer—at a Q&A following the film's premiere, per The Hollywood Reporter. "You've just seen the movie. It's just crazy, crazy.… Love it or hate it, but it's rare to experience something like this as an actor."

Goth said she also appreciated the freedom she was given by Cronenberg to explore the depth of the role, adding that it fell in line nicely with some of her more recent work. "All these characters were free and unhinged, and the fact that I was able to continue exploring these really wild characters felt like a real gift," the actor said. "It was an immediate yes."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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