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'This Is the End' filmmakers: We expected NC-17, not R, rating

MoviesSeth RogenSexual AssaultDrug UseAfter Earth (movie)Recreational Substance Use

When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg submitted “This Is the End” to the ratings board of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the co-directors didn't just expect their raunchy Judgment Day comedy to be slapped with an NC-17 rating -- they secretly planned on receiving the adults-only rating.

Opening June 12, “This Is the End” features an array of actors playing themselves. James Franco is hosting a party at his home when the apocalypse starts. Many celebrities perish, but Franco, Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson survive and try to make it through the end of days.

In addition to scores of profanities and liberal drug use, “This Is the End” includes several sex scenes, including one between a demonic beast and a human, and a satanic creature even more well endowed than Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler in “Boogie Nights.” 

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Acting on the advice of distributor Sony Pictures, Rogen and Goldberg intentionally larded the film with a few sexually explicit frames that they felt certain would shock the movie ratings panel and result in an NC-17 mark, meaning no one under 17 would be allowed to see the film in theaters.

The calculated plan was to then trim a little from the superfluously graphic shots, resubmit a slightly cleaner version to the MPAA and then get the R rating they always wanted. 

But even with a surplus of raunchy material,  “This Is the End” got an R rating for “crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence.”

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The decision stunned Rogen and Goldberg, who also co-wrote the movie.

“All the ratings stuff doesn’t make sense in the first place, but this is like ludicrous,” Goldberg said. Added Rogen: “We actually made it even a little worse than we wanted and that version got approved. Insanely, [we] didn’t have a ratings issue.”

“The whole ratings system in America doesn’t make any sense. They let you get away with sex and with violence,” said Goldberg.

Goldberg noted that “The Green Hornet” (which he also co-wrote with Rogen) received a PG-13 mark despite the fact that characters were being stabbed in the eye and having their brains blown out.  “In this movie, they let us get away with a bunch of erections. As long as it’s a demon, you can have an erection,” Goldberg said.

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Rogen said they assumed they would have to edit out details of the creature’s genitals, but no one at the MPAA seemed to mind.

“We thought the words ‘too veiny’ would come up,” Rogen said. “The term that the MPAA uses is tumescence. It’s the volume of blood in a body part.  And I guess they were OK with the level of tumescence. I’m proud to report we have a high degree of tumescence in our movie."

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