This month marks the 20th anniversary of the NC-17 rating, invented by the MPAA to separate certain graphic yet non-pornographic films from the seedy connotations of the X rating. But the new classification immediately had its own stigma and many theater chains and video stores wouldn’t carry films with the NC-17 mark. So then some films that didn’t want to cut content to receive an R rating went out to cinemas unrated. Unfortunately, many chains were also unwelcome to circumvention of the MPAA. Now AMC Theatres, which has long been one of those against booking films lacking classification, is opening its screens (around 60 locations) to the horror sequel ‘Hatchet II,’ which makes this the widest opening for an unrated film in 25 years.
Of course this decision comes via the accessible horror genre rather than through something more “adult” or sex-centric like a Todd Solondz, John Waters or Harmony Korine, or even an Adrian Lyne or Paul Verhoeven. But will the erotic stuff be treated as fairly as the violent and gory? It’s assumed that following the October 1 release of ‘Hatchet II,’ the also-unrated horror release ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ will be booked in similar fashion. Then what? If the first title is successful — and I think it has a good shot at being the highest-grossing unrated film of all time — can we expect filmmakers to actually start trying to garner an NC-17 just to then go out unrated? Will films that wouldn’t even receive an NC-17 exploit the sudden approval by going unrated anyway? It could get as bad as the present situation with unrated DVD editions, which are rarely worth their ironic marketing gimmick.
After the jump lets look at some of the more notable films that were distributed unrated and see how they performed.