EXCLUSIVE: Blue Is The Warmest Color has gotten the Parents Television Council steamed in all the wrong ways, so much so that the watchdog group has veered from small-screen scrutiny to take on the racy feature film. The advocacy group ripped into NYC’s IFC Center for last week’s decision to flout the MPAA’s adults-only NC-17 rating for the 2013 Palme d’Or winner and invite teenagers to view the sexual-awakening tale that charmed Cannes. “The IFC Center’s decision to usurp parental and family authority by allowing unfettered access to children of adult-rated, explicit sexual content is a direct assault on parents and families across the country,” PTC President Tim Winter thundered in a letter sent to IFC Center General Manager and SVP John Vanco. “Your selective unenforcement (sic) of the MPAA guidelines in this instances approaches industrial fraud, in that the system is intended specifically for the purpose of parental reliance, and that reliance has been obviated. We ask that you immediately reconsider this self-serving and undermining business decision, and instead do what is in the right and best interests of parents, families and children. The Parents Television Council will bring its full weight and credit to bear to make a national issue of your decision, via every available means, until it is reversed,” the letter concludes. It isn’t clear how PTC’s full weight will impact a Gotham art house theater; MPAA issues its ratings, but those classifications are voluntary, and theaters are not under any obligation to follow them.
Winter’s letter dated October 29, of which Deadline has a obtained a copy, was mailed and emailed to Vanco as well as cc’d to AMC Networks CEO Joshua Sapan, Cablevision System chair Charles Dolan and the MPAA’s Chris Dodd.
AMC owns IFC as well as the Greenwich Village art house theater and Sundance Selects, which is distributing the Abdellatif Kechiche-helmed movie in the U.S. Sundance Selects submitted Blue to the MPAA for a rating and got the NC-17, mainly for a graphic 15-minute simulated sex scene between leads Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. The film chronicles the passionate love affair between art school student Emma and aspiring teacher Adele.
“This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is not inappropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds,” Vanco said last week in a statement on the IFC’s Blue decision. France gave the film a 12 rating, meaning anyone that age or over can watch. Rather than fly to France, curious Gotham teens instead can hop the #1 subway downtown to see the hot-button film.
Also today, Cinemark — which has a longstanding policy against showing NC-17 films — said it will start screening Blue Is The Warmest Color on Friday at its theater in Evanston, Ill. It’ll mark the first film with the adults-only rating to play at a Cinemark house.