Sex Doesn’t Sell or Impress Critics or Awards in Mainstream Cinema

According to a study released in November by the journal “Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts,” movies with sexual content perform worse at the box office than films with little or none of that type of content.  Analyzing 914 films released between 2001 and 2005 researchers discovered that explicit sex and nudity actually hurt a film’s performance – on average, gross sales were 31% less.  As the article abstract indicates:  “Although it is commonly assumed that “sex sells” in mainstream cinema, recent research indicates a far more ambiguous relation between strong sexual content and financial performance.

Moreover, such content may not be justified by either critical evaluations or movie awards. The literature even suggests that cinematic sex may reflect long-term gender biases in the film industry. The current study investigates these issues by addressing two questions. First, what is the impact of sex and other graphic content on the central criteria of cinematic success?

Second, to what extent is such content contingent on the proportion of women engaged in filmmaking, whether as producers, directors, writers, or actors? 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. Although female involvement does influence a film’s content, the only impact on the presence of sex and nudity is the proportion of women who make up the cast. Notwithstanding statistical complications, the best conclusion is that graphic sex neither sells nor impresses.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 11:40 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Susancai

    This is worth a read. Looking forward to reading more posts!
    free ads |part time jobs|mattresses

  • http://www.childoftelevision.blogspot.com Tony Figueroa

    Some scenes are gratuitous and become a distraction.
    Is there a difference between comedy or drama?
    A coming of age comedy like the American Pie movies is built around sex where I have seen dramas where love/sex/nude scenes are like a speed bump.
    How does sex sell when it comes to commercials.

    • http://www.paws2consider.com Pet Sitter

      indeed maybe it’s time for hollywood to change this theme when it comes to comedy

  • bygracenotmerit

    Thank God!  Now maybe the will leave it out!

    Dominique http://www.4wallsandaview.com

  • Andreew

    Although I didn’t knew much about this topic, your have enlightened me. Thanks for your time. http://shortpromdresses.orghttp://hobobags.org

  • tedd

    Critics are not supposed to be impressed, they are supposed to share a valuable opinion about the productions. Still, sex scenes make the difference for the public audience, sex and wow nude scenes sell and they’ll be part of video productions for a long time.

  • Zieg

    Amazingly amazing thing to be discussed Online University China | Online University Egypt

  • http://www.sporlike.com/ Spor Haberleri

    Of course there are deep fundamentally destructive processes at play in that industry that they’d overlook in their accounting and not all value is economic. Many studio executives recognize this and know that family/general audience rated films open up more sponsorship and licensing options as well as tell meaningful stories which treat people with dignity and sexuality with modesty.

  • lenny johnson

    i dont completely agree, if sex doesn’t sell, then why would vs make thier annual show a big televsion event.  It has to sell. http://monitorstandreviews.com/

  • http://www.sextoyshopping.co.uk/ sex toys

    Good job i like this article.

  • http://www.electroniccig.com e cigarette

    Sex does Sell :)

  • http://www.freecellphonespying.com cell phone spying

    hopefully hollywood would learn from this and stop putting explicit sex scenes in movie just to get some audience.

  • http://www.freecellphonespying.com cell phone spying

    I agree when your movie is rated for R18 it removes a very large market. Hopefully Hollywood will stop putting sex on movies!

  • http://www.aironehealth.com crt jobs chicago

    it’s about time they stop this, sex and violence is setting a bad example to our kids. Movies should entertain not teach kids to be violent and such.

  • http://www.chicagomarketingconsultant.net/clients small business marketing

    very true! a lot of good movies doesn’t make it well to the box office because they have too much skin on it.

  • British Girl

    I hate sex scenes and nudity in films, even though a lot of people seem to like them. If for some reason you want to see naked people, or people having sex, which seems kinda weird to me, watch porn or something. It makes me feel really annoyed and uncomfortable when I’m watching an otherwise good film or TV show, and suddenly there’s some completely unnecessary sex or someone walking around naked or barely clothed.
    And don’t even get me started on how inadequate it can make people feel… we don’t all look like those men and women on screen, so seeing that can demoralise us and give people impossible expectations.
    I just don’t understand why people think it’s okay. How can you like something like that?!

  • http://www.cell-phone-tapping.com phone tapping software

    hollowed should reconsider putting sex scene and too violent scenes in their movies

  • http://www.androidtrackingapp.com phone tracking

    maybe it’s time for holywood to police it’s own industry and stop this movie with excessive skin and violence

  • http://www.androidgpsapp.com cell phone apps

    very informative and helpful post. You have good command on the topic and have explained in very nice way. Thanks for sharing, I have spent a lot of hours searching for information about this and reading your articles in your blog has helped me a lot in understanding what the topic is all about.

  • http://tapcellphone.com cell phone spy software

    your blog is such a wonderful place to socialize, you have a lot of well written and fun to read articles no wonder you have a good following in your website. I will definitely bookmark this and make sure to regularly check for updates

  • http://www.cellphonetrackersoftware.com spy phone

    Well said, remind me of a lot of things this past few years! anyways you have a very nice blog here and good articles including this which i love reading and gives me a lot of insight on the topic.

  • http://www.jgsupplements.com/products/Saccharomyces-Boulardii-60-Vcaps.html saccharomyces boulardii

    A very effective blog.Enjoyed reading the content.Very good description. Good to see this post and read some of your ideas.Great shared pictures as well.

  • http://www.CouponCodeReview.Info/ Michalesimon40

    Excellent article I read this and i hope every visitor like this post. i am really interesting in this post. Thanks admin.

  • Sanobar11

    The tropical trees, shrubs and flowers in the Secret Garden are under constant stress due to an old, worn out irrigation system. Inefficient sprinkler heads spray water onto the sloping planters that in turn drain down into the underpasses beneath the building. General Contractor Long Island

  • Pingback: Sexy scenes in movies! Should be any boundaries? | Jeebboo News()

  • Paul A Rose Jr

    I have only seen one movie where a sex scene was not only justified, but actually was a needed plot device, rather than just an accoutrement.  Pay It Forward, when Helen Hunt’s character embraces and accepts Kevin Spacey’s severely burned character, despite his physical and mental issues.  The scene (which was in no way explicit) truly had a purpose in the film other than titillation.

  • jeff reid

    Hey ~ just look at The Bourne Trilogy ~ no sex. and it’s amazing because it never interupts the action. And I haven’t ever heard anyone complain about it, either. Brilliant!  

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Anybody remember Wayne’s World?  The scene where the female lead and one of the male leads just hop into a bed together and bounce up-and-down on the mattress while a subtitle blinks “GRATUITOUS SEX SCENE… GRATUITIOUS SEX SCENE… GRATUITOUS SEX SCENE…”?  (Remember, this was LONG before South Park.)

    When a shtick gets spoofed like that, it should tell you something.

  • Simon Dillon

    The Crying Game and The Terminator are the only films I can think of where a sex scene actually advanced the plot.

    As for nudity, it depends. Schindler’s List I’ve got no problem with, and I think the bathing scene in Witness works rather well (as a kind of David and Bathsheba type thing where the temptation ISN’T succumbed to). I suppose the nude scene at the end of Babel wouldn’t be as powerful if she was clothed (though the flashing scenes earlier in the film were definitely unnecessary in what they showed) and the nude stuff in Walkabout doesn’t bother me that much either.

  • George Fernandes

    adult games is usually played by teen people of the nation for some stress management…….

  • http://www.benweeks.ca Ben Weeks

    This may be true in mainstream film, but using an argument based on economics could be flawed because the pornographic industry-in economic terms appears to be a “successful” multibillion dollar industry. They would argue they are mainstream but just not accepted by society.

    Of course there are deep fundamentally destructive processes at play in that industry that they’d overlook in their accounting and not all value is economic. Many studio executives recognize this and know that family/general audience rated films open up more sponsorship and licensing options as well as tell meaningful stories which treat people with dignity and sexuality with modesty.

    That said, despite what this study may feel are low levels of sexual content in a film like transformers 2 , there’s enough skin in the trailer to cause my wife to not want me to watch it. I’d like to for the robots, but don’t want to feel guilty for seeing other stuff and so have avoided watching the film. Maybe others are like me, but I’d guess I’d be in the minority?

  • http://www.teknolojisayfasi.com/ Teknoloji Haberleri

    As for nudity, it depends. Schindler’s List I’ve got no problem with, and I think the bathing scene in Witness works rather well (as a kind of David and Bathsheba type thing where the temptation ISN’T succumbed to). I suppose the nude scene at the end of Babel wouldn’t be as powerful if she was clothed (though the flashing scenes earlier in the film were definitely unnecessary in what they showed) and the nude stuff in Walkabout doesn’t bother me that much either.

  • http://www.chicagomarketingconsultant.net Internet Marketing Chicago

    point well taken i don’t your views are minority a lot of people share the same views as you,