Sony’s hit animated comedy Sausage Party has completed much of its offshore run, grossing about $140M worldwide to date, and was just released in France on Wednesday. But some folks here are not getting the joke. Rated R in North America, the film was granted a -12 certificate by France’s classification commission, and that has Catholic groups and La Manif Pour Tous, an anti-same-sex marriage association, losing their lunches.
On Wednesday, La Manif Pour Tous — which gained notoriety in 2013 as it vocally opposed the law to legalize same-sex marriage — launched a Twitter campaign against the pic written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Among its missives, one was directed at France’s national film body the CNC: “Hello CNC, explain how you can authorize the screening of a giant orgy for the whole family?” it asked (not shying from posting photos from said scene, see below).
— La Manif Pour Tous ن (@LaManifPourTous) November 30, 2016
Jean-Frédéric Poisson, President of the Christian Democratic party added: “An orgy scene for 12-year-olds! Everything remains to be done to combat early exposure to pornography.”
Earlier this week, the website Info Chrétienne wrote: “Do not let the powerful pornography industry make your children its future zombie and drug addict customers. The effects of pornography on the brain are comparable to those of heroin!”
The Association of Catholic Families posted a warning on its website Wednesday saying it was “urgent and important” to alert readers to the release of Sausage Party, “an animated film giving the appearance of being intended for young people and children (like Toy Story), but whose content is not only coarse, but also clearly pornographic, under cover of being ‘politically incorrect.'”
During its earlier domestic and international rollout, Sausage Party made no buns about the fact that it’s a comedy aimed at adults. Hence the R in the States. The UK, the film’s biggest foreign market ($10.2M), gave it a 15 rating. An argument could be made that the content of the closing scene is a bit over the top for younger kids, but France traditionally has been harsher on violence than sex.
What’s more, the film carries a distinct message of tolerance, which, as French daily Libération notes, seems to have flown past La Manif Pour Tous, which is focused “on the image of a mushroom giving a blowjob to a beet.”
Still, the past few years have seen a rising tide of upset over certain ratings when it comes to sexual content. Blue Is the Warmest Color, which won the Palme d’Or in 2013, originally was rated -12 and later lost its operating visa when a Paris court ruled it contains “realistic sex scenes likely to offend the sensibilities of a young audience.”
That movie had been targeted by Christian values group Promouvoir, which also succeeded in changing the rating of Gaspar Noé’s Love and had Lars von Trier’s Antichrist banned. Despite a challenge, Universal’s Fifty Shades of Grey remains firmly cuffed with its -12.
Promouvoir thus far has remained silent on the Sausage Party brouhaha, and yet some in the French industry agree that the ratings system requires an overhaul — if for no other reason than to keep it out of the courts.
The CNC, which says it will not be commenting on the protests over Sausage Party, classifies a -12 film as being appreciated as a whole, taking into account “the subject and its treatment and places the scenes, events, in the proper logic of the narrative to take account of the distancing of the staging or complacency in the treatment.”
First-day figures are not yet confirmed on Sausage Party in France. Although it’s only playing on 84 screens this week, it could benefit from the publicity being inadvertently thrown on its grill.
Annapurna Pictures and Point Grey Pictures are co-producers of Sausage Party.