A shot of George Clooney's naked derriere has caused the upcoming film Solaris to receive an R rating, and that's sparked a showdown between Twentieth Century Fox and the Motion Picture Association of America, ABCNEWS.com has learned.
At stake is millions of dollars in box-office revenue. The R rating restricts viewers under 17 from seeing the film unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Fox had expected the movie — an update of the 1972 Russian cult classic — to earn a PG-13 rating.
Fox has refused to edit out Clooney's bare bottom in order to get the more kid-friendly rating. It plans to appeal to studio executives on an MPAA panel to overturn the R rating, an industry source told ABCNEWS.com.
Considering that TV viewers have been regularly treated to the sight of the hindquarters of various male stars on NYPD Blue, Clooney is hardly breaking new ground.
"It's really surprising," said the source. "The scene is absolutely relevant to the plot. It's hardly gratuitous, and you see stuff like that all the time on TV."
‘R’ Could Spell Box-Office Ruin
Rich Taylor of the MPAA acknowledges that Solaris earned the surprise rating for "sexually related nudity," although he didn't know which scene sparked the controversy.
Solaris, directed by Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich), is due to hit theaters Nov. 27. Clooney plays a psychologist who encounters the ghost of his dead wife (Natascha McElhone) on a distant space station.
The movie is based on a novel by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. In a June interview with Film Threat, Soderbergh described his version as a "a combination of 2001 and Last Tango in Paris."
In the questionable scene, Clooney and McElhone are talking in a bedroom, and they kiss. They are not shown engaged in sex.
Ratings are determined by the Classification and Ratings Administration — a panel composed of parents that works separately from the MPAA and meets secretly to avoid influence from the studios.
The mere depiction of a male or female rear end does not automatically relegate a film to an R rating.
In the appeals process, the MPAA calls on a select group of industry professionals.