'Bruno' tailored in U.K. for younger crowd

Universal releasing two versions of the film at the same time

LONDON -- Universal Pictures U.K. is releasing a re-edit of Sacha Baron Cohen's "Bruno" to secure a "15" certificate and help boost audiences. It's the first time that two versions of one film will have been released at the same time in the U.K.

The "15" version is 110 seconds shorter than the original "18" film and was only submitted to the British Board of Film Classification on Monday.

There are three scenes in the original with strong sex and sex references considered by the board to go beyond the "15" level but acceptable at the adult "18" category.

The first scene features a montage of exaggerated sexual activity between Bruno and his boyfriend. The second shows Bruno comically miming fellatio and anilingus as he pretends to have oral sex with a deceased person with whom he is in contact through a medium. The third features sex among couples at a swingers' party, with sexual detail obscured.

All are likely to be cut to achieve the "15" certification. A BBFC spokesman said that the recut movie had only just landed on his desk and could not say which parts had been chopped.

The movie, in its unadulterated "18" version, reached the top boxoffice spot here and in the U.S. in its opening weekend, grossing £5 million ($8.1 million) in the U.K. and $30.6 million in the States.

Universal said movie theaters across the U.K. "have reported turning away large numbers of under 18s keen to see the new film."

Universal Pictures International president David Kosse said he hoped the cut version would bring in bigger audiences. The studio said it does not plan to submit edited versions of the film in any of the other seven territories in which it is releasing "Bruno."

In the film, Baron Cohen stars as the title character, an outlandish gay Austrian fashion TV presenter with an unquenchable thirst for fame.

The U.K. has seen reclassification of movies before but never for simultaneous release. "Saturday Night Fever," originally given an "X" certificate, was reclassified a year after as a "PG" with agreed cuts. And more recently, "The Passion of the Christ" was rereleased months after its original debut with a "18" certificate after cuts to get it a "15" certification.