Netflix NFLX has received a rare NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) for its new biopic on Marilyn Monroe.
What Happened: According to the Hollywood Reporter, the MPA cited “some sexual content” in putting the NC-17 rating on “Blonde,” which is based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel and stars Ana de Armas as the iconic Hollywood sex symbol.
Netflix has not announced if it planned to put “Blonde” into theatrical release before adding it to its streaming lineup.
Films from MPA members (which includes Netflix) that object to the NC-17 rating can either appeal for a reconsideration of the designation or re-edit the film and resubmit it for an R rating. Distribution companies that are not MPA members have the option of ignoring the rating and releasing their films unrated.
If Netflix keeps the rating intact, it will have problems getting screen dates at major cinema chains like AMC Entertainment Holdings AMC, which do not screen NC-17 films. Netflix could keep the rating and release the film in smaller independent venues that have no problems screening NC-17 rated works.
Why It's Important: The NC-17 rating was introduced in 1990 to replace the X rating that was originally intended for mainstream films with mature subject matter — including the 1969 Best Picture Oscar winner "Midnight Cowboy" — but was later hijacked by the pornographic film world to self-identify smutty content.
The last film to date that kept the NC-17 rating while in theaters was “This One’s For the Ladies,” a 2018 documentary on male strippers released by Neon.
Netflix has previously streamed NC-17 movies produced by other studios, including the critically acclaimed French film “Blue is the Warmest Color,” which won the Palme d'Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award as Best Foreign-Language Film.
“Blonde” director Andrew Dominik predicted the MPA rating in a February interview with Screen Daily.
“It’s a demanding movie,” he said. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f**king audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office. It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.”
Photo: Screen shot of Marilyn Monroe from the trailer of the 1953 film "Niagara," courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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