The MPAA, oh how we all hate them, but maybe they’re not so bad after all (yeah they are)? They made a HUGE, Earth-shattering announcement last night that’s going to affect cinema instantaneously – they now embrace the NC-17 rating and encourage indie filmmakers to strive for it. What does this mean? It means that we might finally see NC-17 films released wide, so films like HIGH TENSION wouldn’t be ruined this time around. In addition to this big break, they threw in a bonus… the books are opening up! Read on for the skinny and let us all thank THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED for helping get changes in motion.
MPAA chairman-CEO Dan Glickman met with indie filmmakers and studio specialty execs Monday at Sundance, declaring he wants the movie biz to embrace the NC-17 rating and thereby provide a place for edgier fare.
He also delivered a gift during the closed-door sesh: The Classification & Ratings Administration has appointed a liaison to help filmmakers with questions about the ratings process.
Indie filmmakers have long felt frustrated by the ratings process, which has been shrouded in mystery. Glickman is trying to relieve some of that angst, saying the credibility of the ratings system is vital to the entire movie biz.
The morning meeting in Park City at the Lodges at Deer Valley officially kicked off Glickman’s campaign to make the ratings system more transparent and user-friendly (Daily Variety, Jan. 17).
Ratings had already come up at Sundance, even before Glickman’s roundtable with the indie community.
On Sunday, the Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate pacted to pick up “Teeth,” a dark comedy about a girl who has teeth in her vagina. Harvey Weinstein said he doesn’t want to cut the movie to ensure an R rating. Lionsgate can release an unrated movie since it’s not a member studio of the MPAA.
Accompanying Glickman to Park City was Joan Graves, chair of the Classification & Ratings Administration. The National Assn. of Theater Owners (which administers the ratings board with the MPAA) also is a partner in the campaign.
In Park City, some attending the roundtable offered the idea of taking the stigma out of the NC-17 rating, which itself was created to take the stigma out of the X rating. But the NC-17 rating never caught on.
Studio marketing departments quickly encountered trouble when trying to place media buys, since various outlets think an NC-17 film is the same as an X-rated film. Also, exhibs have been reluctant to devote screens to NC-17 films.
Briefing reporters after the session, Glickman and Graves said they readily agreed something must be done.
“We are going to talk about this with the Directors Guild of America and NATO,” Glickman said. “It’s one of our ratings, and I’d like to see it used more.”
Graves said parents are particularly concerned about the new generation of horror pics playing on the bigscreen, such as the “Saw” and “Hostel” franchises.
Glickman stressed the rating system itself is not being changed. The reforms being made are designed to make the process more public.
In the coming weeks, Glickman, Graves and NATO prexy John Fithian will meet with various stakeholders in the ratings process to talk about the proposed changes and to get input about other possible reforms.
For the first time, CARA plans to post the ratings rules, which describe the ratings and appeals process, and the standards for each.
In another first, CARA will allow a filmmaker to reference a scene from another movie during the appeals process, although the board still will put heavy emphasis on context.
There also will be a new ratings descriptor saying certain R-rated movies aren’t appropriate for younger children.
Fithian will brief theater owners on these and other changes at ShoWest in March.