"Fifty Shades of Grey" has been a global literary phenomenon, translated into around 50 different languages, and sold everywhere from Estonia to Turkey. This weekend, the film adaptation will appear in theaters around the world, and that means national film boards have been figuring out how to rate it and whom should be allowed to see it.
Malaysia banned it. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated it "R," meaning that children younger than 17 need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The British Board of Film Classification gave it an "18."
And then there's France.
The Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC) gave the film a rating of "12," meaning that only children under the age of 12 are prohibited from seeing it.
Very French, indeed.
The justification for the rating was the theme of sadomasochism and the casualness with which the film presents it.
According the president of the CNC, Jean-François Mary, the board wasn't unanimous when it came to the rating, but probably not for the reason you'd expect: some members thought there shouldn't have been an age restriction at all, merely a warning.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" isn't a film that "can shock a lot of people," Mary said. It's "a romance, you could even say schmaltzy."
And that's how 12-year-old boys across France suddenly became very interested in cinema.