Sex Doesn’t Sell… Movies, That Is

A recent study of more than 900 films indicates that nudity and sex scenes don’t sell movies as much as people think they do:

“Sex Doesn’t Sell — nor Impress! Content, Box Office, Critics, and Awards in Mainstream Cinema” examined more than 900 films released between 2001 and 2005.

The study found that, contrary to popular belief, sex and nudity failed to positively affect a film’s popularity among viewers or critics and did not guarantee big box office receipts.

One of the study’s co-authors, Dean Keith Simonton, said theirs was the largest sample of its kind used for film research. The results surprised him, he said.

“Sex did not sell, whether in the domestic or international box office, and even after controlling for MPAA rating,” said Simonton, who is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. “In other words, even among R movies, less graphic sex is better.”

Somewhere, I think I hear Ted Baehr saying “I told you so.”


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