In honor of NC-17 rated "Blue Is The Warmest Color" -- which is continuing to find strong numbers as it expands across the U.S. ($379,278 and counting) -- Indiewire is taking a look back at the history of the controversial rating, which has been in effect for over 23 years now.
The rating was inaugurated by the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) in September 1990 with the release of Philip Kaufman's "Henry
& June" (which, to this day, is the second highest grossing film
released with the rating). Initially standing for "No Children Under 17
Admitted," the MPAA changed its meaning to "No One 17 and Under
Admitted" in the late 1990s despite the acronym now no longer making
READ MORE: IFC Center Will Admit High Schoolers to NC-17 Rated 'Blue is the Warmest Color'
Thirty films have been released with an NC-17 since, the vast majority of them receiving the rating due to sexual content. Of them, only 14 have grossed over $1 million, and only two - "Henry & June" and "Showgirls," the latter of which is far and away the highest grossing NC-17 film - taking in over $10 million.
Beyond, most obviously, "Showgirls," most of the films rated
NC-17 are actually exceptional examples of challenging independent and
world cinema. From Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" and "Tie Me Up! Tie
Me Down!" to Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution," Todd Haynes' "Poison," Steve McQueen's "Shame" and David
Cronenberg's "Crash," "Blue is the Warmest Color" should proudly stand alongside its NC-17
predecessors. And hopefully, it manages to continue to find some respectable box
office in the process, helping relieve distributors' fears of releasing
films with the rating (which, as many of us learned through "Blue," is merely a "recommendation").
In the meantime, take a look at the 20 top grossing NC-17 films
of all-time (a list "Blue" should easily be on by next weekend):