‘Damage’ appeals don’t sway MPAA

The Motion Picture Assn. of America Rating Appeals Board yesterday upheld the NC-17 rating given to New Line Cinema’s “Damage,” the latest film by director Louis Malle. The rating for the film, starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche , prohibits admission to anyone under the age of 17.

Other MPAA ratings, page 8.

The film was screened for the MPAA’s Appeals Board yesterday afternoon in New York. A hearing was held immediately after. New Line officials were notified of the board’s decision after the hearing.

“We are deeply disturbed by the decision of the MPAA rating Appeals Board to uphold the NC-17 rating for ‘Damage,’ ” New Line president and chief operating officer Michael Lynne said in a statement. “We strongly believe that the NC-17 rating is inappropriate for this serious and important film directed by one of the world’s finest filmmakers. ‘Damage’ is not sexually exploitive nor gratuitously violent and presents, in a powerful and meaningful way, an important moral message.”

According to the MPAA, “Damage” was given the NC-17 rating for an extended erotic scene between Irons and Binoche. In its appeal, New Line argued that other controversial major studio releases have had much more explicit and violent sex scenes and have still received an R rating.

Malle, who is recuperating in Los Angeles from open heart surgery, did not attend the hearing, but New Line arranged for a videotaped statement from the director to be played for the Appeals Board. Today’s appeal also included a presentation from director Mike Nichols as well as Lynne.

According to Lynne, New Line and Malle have not made a decision on whether “Damage” will be released with an NC-17 rating.

“However, if a decision is made to attempt to secure an R rating, it will be done only on condition that the R-rated version of the film is true to Mr. Malle’s vision and consistent in every way with the existing version of the film ,” Lynne said.

“Damage” is set to open in New York and Los Angeles Dec. 16 for Academy consideration and nationwide Jan. 15, 1993.

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