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Blue Valentine’s NC-17 Rating Overturned by MPAA

Blue Valentine's NC-17 Rating Overturned by MPAA

Thompson on Hollywood

Sometimes the right thing happens. Harvey Weinstein milked the controversy surrounding the NC-17 rating for Blue Valentine to bring attention to the movie. Director Derek Cianfrance had refused to trim an intimate sex scene with implied oral sex between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling from the realistic relationship drama. Finally Wednesday, after Weinstein led 40 minutes of appeals arguments and screened the film at the MPAA’s Sherman Oaks offices, the MPAA appeals board overturned the rating.

Weinstein had promised the filmmakers he would not alter the film. He never prepared a cut in case the appeal did not go his way. He mentioned in his arguments to the appeals board a Twitter petition with 3000 signatures, and read several excerpts. He also credited journalists who weighed in on the issue, including The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. He also talked of a recruited screening he staged Wednesday night in Kansas City, after which he polled the crowd of 260: “What should this film be rated?” 80 % said R, he told the board. Attorneys Alan Friedman, Ethan Noble, David Boies and Bert Fields helped to prepare Weinstein’s appeal.

The rating would have severely hampered the film’s Oscar hopes; now rated R, the movie opens December 31. “The R rating overall makes it a broader picture,” said Weinstein exec David Glasser.

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J. Sperling Reich

Just had to weigh in here having read what was said by the previous commenter.

I can’t speak to whether an NC-17 rating would harm the awards chances of “Blue Valentine”, but it undoubtedly would have affected its box office earnings. A film with an NC-17 rating has a hard time finding a newspaper or television station that will run advertisements for it. As well, some theater chains will not show films with the rating.

Without the ability to properly market their release, most NC-17 films do not receive wide releases and suffer for it financially.


NC-17 rating would not directly harm the Oscar hopes of movies;
There were X-rating films that got major Oscar awards/nominations. “Henry & June” also got Oscar nomination despite of lukewarm critical reaction.

For the niche movies that have very little crossover potential, NC-17 rating actually has positive effect on the box office. It should be why Focus choose to release NC-17 version of “Lust, Caution” . (Having seen the R-rated version of “Lust, Caution”, I think that the R-rated version would not receive worse critical reaction than NC-17 version, if not better. It was also clear that Ang Lee shot “Lust, Caution” as a R-rated movie.)

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