In Hollywood, "Show Me Some Skin" and "Show Me the Money" Aren't the Same Thing

You might think that movies featuring bare-breasted starlets are more likely to blow up at the box office. But as Tom Jacobs notes in Miller-McCune, that perception suggests you might not be "keeping abreast* of the latest research."

Analyses of 914 films released between 2001 and 2005 indicated that sex and nudity do not, on the average, boost box office performance, earn critical acclaim or win major awards," reports a new study titled "Sex Doesn't Sell — Nor Impress." According to the researchers, sex and nudity were negatively correlated with a film's net profits from domestic distribution and had no positive impact on a picture's popularity or prestige according to a wide variety of measures.

"I have yet to see a way of crunching the numbers where sex/nudity has a positive relationship with box office, even controlling for MPAA rating or budget," reports co-author Anemone Cerridwen, an independent scholar based in Vancouver, British Columbia. "'Sex sells' is a myth, at least for this database."

 Hollywood's Foreign Press Association, however, does seem more taken with the carnal:

"In the case of movie awards," they add, "sex/nudity does have a small positive correlation with the Golden Globes, an appreciation not shared with the Oscars."

Obviously, a tally like this doesn't include pornography; I also wonder if the lack of box-office boost from nudity is a recent phenomenon. As a movie geek, my impression has always been that bare breasts were a bigger selling point in the 1980s (especially in the genre market). And these days, with the advent of comprehensive celebrity nudity sites like Mr. Skin (obviously not safe for work!), which indexes starlet flesh, I suspect big-screen nudity is less of a draw.  

On the other hand,  if it's high-profile enough, celebrity nudity still draws traffic on the web: When Lindsay Lohan bared all (tastefully, of course) for New York magazine last year, web traffic instantly shot up 2,000 percent.

*Ha-ha! Abreast!

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  • ||

    the selling power of sex might be more linked to age/sex groups. I was a teenage boy in the 80's and that is when it seemed to me that naked boobs greatly increased the value of a movie...nowadays not so much. However with the internet, teenage boys certainly don't need to wait for spring break movies to come out to finally see some boobs.

  • Warty||

    Holy shit, guys, did you see that sideboob?

  • ||

    The Skeletor-esque standard of beauty in Hollywood lowers my enthusiasm for seeing many of them nude.

  • ||

    This. Perfect example: Cameron Diaz. She looks like a jack o'lantern.

  • ||

    Agreed.

  • ||

    Or Vickie Beckham. She looks like she just stumbled out of Dachau.

  • The Chad||

    ...and into her plastic surgeon's office. yikes her buoys look ridiculous

  • ||

    Olsen twins. Ewwww.

  • ||

    The people of today, particularly the youth, do not have the same extreme scarcity of titties that the children of the 80s had to deal with. You want tits, you can get tits instantly. Not like the old days, when a 10 year old might get to check out somebody's Playboy stash once a year or might try to watch scrambled Scinemax channels hoping to see a few boobs in the distortion.

    So yeah, I doubt anyone is going to a movie for boobs that they wouldn't have gone to anyway. The only people who would care would be the ones who would stay away, really.

  • robc||

    scrambled Scinemax channels

    aka Picasso Porn.

  • ||

    *many of the females, that is. Nude actors piss me off in a different way that only other guys will understand, like the scene in that stupid-ass movie Fight Club that shows a shirtless Brad Pitt, shaved chest and chiseled abs smeared with oil, munching Fritos.

  • ||

    The first rule of Fight Club is you do not call it a stupid-ass movie.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Fight Club is awesome, bro.

  • juris imprudent||

    The only awesome thing was the scene at the very end, the rest was tedious.

  • ||

    Sorry, I can't stand that movie. Just my asshole- er, opinion.

    I despise the book, too, but I equally despise everything Palahniunk has ever written.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    OMG your opinions are abhorrent to me. :D

  • ||

    :(

    I get that a lot...

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Cheer up. My taste in music offends about 80% of my peers.

  • ||

    Whenever I introduce somebody to Melt-Banana, I try to snap a picture of the looks I get. :P

  • ||

    I suspect the wide availability of porn online maybe have reduced the selling power of a few seconds of breasts or ass shown in a movie theater. Especially given rising ticket prices at theaters.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    So very true.

  • hamilton||

    I am glad to see immediate results from the webathon and 100% support more articles like this, ideally with more pictures. Thanks!

  • LarryA||

    It seems to me that most of today's movie "nudity" is of the "we have to flash a boob in the shower to get the R rating" type. See your Jolie illustration. Disappointing, at best. Much of the sex in the "unrated" videostore versions is played for the gross instead of the sensual.

    Sex won't sell movies until they actually put some sex in the movies. And the nannystate can't let that happen.

  • Bill Ayers||

    I agree. I'd pay to see a film with Megan Fox sucking a dick.

  • 2999||

    Agreed. I hope Fox's career tanks and she ends up in porn. Since I saw this at least: http://bighollywood.breitbart......-bad-idea/

  • 2999||

    Agreed. I hope Fox's career tanks and she ends up in porn. Since I saw this at least: http://bighollywood.breitbart......-bad-idea/

  • 2999||

    Damn it......

  • ||

    I was hoping your link would be more NSFW

  • ||

    Please no more links with the word "waaahmbulance" in the first sentence. Thank you.

  • juris imprudent||

    The actress tells The New York Times that her movie “Jennifer’s Body” tanked because “the movie is about a man-eating, cannibalistic lesbian cheerleader, and that pretty much eliminates middle America.”

    Sounds like your wish has already come true - mostly.

  • hmm||

    If I want to see boobs I don't go to the movies.

  • ||

    Me neither, but I still like to see boobies when I do go.

  • ¢||

    There's no reliable way for this average moviegoer to know what movies have tits out in them until the tits come out, because of the lack of tits-out ads and the overabundance of titles without "tits out" in them.

    I'd have gone to see Jennifer's Tits Out.

  • ||

    Upcoming Nude Scenes. NSFW, obviously.

  • ||

    well done, those are the kind of links that belong in a thread like this.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Yep. Already got that site in my RSS feed.

  • ||

    The Campus Reform.org girl is kind of cute, in a soulless automaton sort of way.

  • Shorter SugarFree||

    I'm a fucking pervert!

  • ||

    Yeah. What's your point?

  • ||

    Tread lightly. SF is our fucking pervert.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    I was under the impression that box office is more driven by family fare these days than most anything else and an R rating is bad for business..... You can have all the crashes and explosions you want (not so much blood however) but no boobies. That's how you make money.

  • Geotpf||

    This is the correct answer.

  • ||

    Yeah, I believe PG-13 is the usual target rating. Getting a G rating is usually even more deleterious for BO than an R, which is why so many kiddie flicks include a bit of bathroom humor to avoid it.

  • prolefeed||

    Lame sex and nudity doesn't sell when it is competing with internet pr0n.

  • NeonCat||

    I think stricter enforcement of age restrictions is in part to blame. When I was a teenager I could generally get into an R rated movie without a problem. I don't think that's the case today.

  • NeonCat||

    Not to mention some (IIRC) some PG-13 movies had bared breasts, but again I don't think that's the case today.

  • hotsauce||

    Just One of the Guys; Men at Work

  • ||

    Titanic

  • Xeones||

    Shorter SugarFree|11.20.09 @ 2:38PM|#

    I'm a fucking pervert!

    New here?

  • ||

    Clearly this is evidence that *more* skin is needed in each movie.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Most films serve a different purpose than the porn, obviously. A good love scene demands little to no nudity. For example: I Heart Huckabees or Alphaville.

    Of course, Mulholland Dr. was still good.

  • ||

    A naked Naomi Watts is always good.

  • juris imprudent||

    Speaking of art-porn, doesn't "Anemone Cerridwen" sound like someone's idea of a high-brow porn name? Oh, how disappointed you would be if you clicked on Suderman's link.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I was so disappointed that "Anemone Cerridwen" wasn't her birth name, but at least she has good taste in name changes.

  • Barack Obama||

    There are some who say that there aren't enough titty-minutes in movies these days. So I am creating a new taskforce to study this issue and appointing Lil Wayne to lead it.

  • ||

    And these days, with the advent of comprehensive celebrity nudity sites like Mr. Skin (obviously not safe for work!), which indexes starlet flesh

    A link to a pay porn site?!?!

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

    Internet porn should always be free!

  • Kolohe||

    Communist!

  • ||

    Come on, the old school christian right-wing would say we've been desensitized to sex by Hollywood's lack of morals.

  • John Berger||

    I'm not paying just to see tits when I can see them free on the net. Now if I could grab a starlets tits check them out for myself, then I might be enticed to check out the film... Heck I wouldn't even need to watch the film, you don't even need to make a film. Pure profit ladies just let me grab your tits I give you money. eh... on second though fuck it if you want my money for sexy time go work at the the strip club, their pro's and cheap. If you want to make a decent movie make it and I'll watch.. Why would I want to be aroused while watching a movie with my buddies or with some chick(unless she's doing it).

  • ||

    Another thing that the study doesn't account for is that films that aren't expecting a big box office in the first place are more likely add a little T&A to put butts in the seats. Highly anticipated movies rarely do that.

  • ben tej||

    That's exactly what I was thinking ... like every National Lampoon movie that's come out in the last five years--lots of boobs, horrible movie, low (or no) box office.

  • ||

    Maybe reason should use affiliate programs, and it would reduce the need for donation drives. or perhaps not- since no one pays for porn on the internet. At least use mine! My soft porn internet empire is not doing well these days.

  • Jason||

    nice Phil Ken Sebben reference in the last line, Suderman.

  • ||

    im not paying 10 bucks for 5 seconds of boobs in a dark scene.

    It isn't the negative correlation, it's that we know the shots are going to suck.

  • ||

    Shhhhhh...Don't anybody tell Brent Bozell...

  • ||

    The writer of the article does not know what is important in life. A naked breast of a sweet woman always makes a work of art but a naked breast of materialistic producers who are after sex only does not make an impact. From this point to say that a naked breast is not good on screen it's matter of geography (copyright Julia Roberts).
    A work of art without breast can only be done by those who have real, blessed love in the blood.

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