UPDATED, 9:52 AM: IFC Films issued a statement this morning about the flap over Wednesday’s screenings of an unrated version of The House That Jack Built that the MPAA says broke it ratings rules. “IFC Films has not received any written notice from the MPAA regarding sanctions in connection with The House That Jack Built,” the distributor said. “It has always been IFC Films’ priority to maintain the artistic vision of our filmmakers, and we do not believe that the one-day screening of the Director’s Cut unrated version has violated the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Rules.”
PREVIOUSLY, November 28: The MPAA is calling out IFC Films over tonight’s screenings of its Lars von Trier serial-killer gorefest The House That Jack Built. The trade group says the showings violate its rules because, rather than being the abridged R-rated version that hits theaters in two weeks, they were of a decidedly gorier unrated director’s cut.
IFC Films Co-President & Indie Film Champion Jonathan Sehring To Step Down
Emphasis on “cut.”
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IFC faces potential sanctions over the screenings, which are tonight only in select theaters ahead of the R-rated version’s December 14 theatrical bow. Per MPAA rules: “In consultation with the CEO of the MPAA, the President of NATO, and the Chairperson of CARA, a date and time, no later than 10 business days after notice is given to the producer or distributor, will be set for a hearing to provide the producer or distributor an opportunity to be heard.”
Under the trade group’s ratings rules, its Classification & Ratings Administration “may revoke the rating issued by it to the motion picture.” The distributor also “may be suspended from participating in the rating system for [no] more than 90 days” and/or face “any other sanction listed in the [CARA] rules.”
Deadline has reached out to IFC Films for comment but has yet to hear back.
The MPAA said in a statement tonight that it “has communicated to the distributor, IFC Films, that the screening of an unrated version of the film in such close proximity to the release of the rated version – without obtaining a waiver – is in violation of the rating system’s rules. The effectiveness of the MPAA ratings depends on our ability to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents. That’s why the rules clearly outline the proper use of the ratings. Failure to comply with the rules can create confusion among parents and undermine the rating system – and may result in the imposition of sanctions against the film’s submitter.”
Not that many parents are likely to take their kids to see this, but The House That Jack Built stars Matt Dillon as the crazy-sadistic titular murderer. Uma Thurman plays a stranded motorist who knew she shouldn’t have gotten into that creepy van with him, and Riley Keough suffers an awful fate while on a date with Jack. It premiered at Cannes in May as von Trier’s big comeback to that festival after a years-long ban.
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