Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, famous in the ’40s for making ingenues cover up before filming, soon will be marketing not one but two hypererotic movies: Body of Evidence, with Madonna and Willem Dafoe, due in January and possibly headed for an NC-17 rating, and The Lover, an R-rated affair about a wealthy young Chinese man (Tony Leung) and a poor French girl (Jane March), due in late October.
While Evidence has been getting all the ink, thanks to talk of Madonna’s out-there sex scene, The Lover may quietly provide the season’s real steam. Preview audiences have come out gasping, claiming the stars’ lovemaking seems authentic. But director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear) denies it. ”My pleasure is to make people believe it is true,” he says.
MGM won’t comment on its promotion for either film, but it has announced that the $25 million The Lover will open slowly, starting in Chicago, New York, and L.A. Marketing consultant David Forbes finds the strategy unusual for a film with a big budget. ”Either (MGM) is afraid of it and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money if it’s going to fail,” he says, ”or they have the utmost confidence that it will get great reviews and word of mouth.” It’s already getting good mouth. After Madonna screened the movie (she was supposed to see a rough print of Body, but it wasn’t ready) she reportedly came out grinning.