IFC Center Blasted For Allowing Teens Into ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’

Blue is the Warmest Color Movie

NC-17-rated lesbian drama expands to 10 markets Friday

The blowback has begun for New York’s IFC Center, which is permitting teenage audiences to attend IFC Films’ NC-17-rated French-language pic, “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, a self-described nonpartisan educational org advocating “responsible entertainment,” issued a letter Thursday criticizing the IFC Center for its decision to allow teens into the controversial film.

“Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, opened limited last weekend at four theaters, averaging a solid $25,079 per screen. Two years ago, Fox Searchlight’s “Shame,” which also generated heavy media attention surrounding its NC-17 rating, averaged nearly $35,000 from 10 debut locations.

SEE ALSO: ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ Helmer Slams Star as Feud Escalates

In the letter to John Vanco, IFC Center senior VP and general manager, Winter said: “On behalf of the 1.3 million members of the Parents Television Council, whose mission it is to protect children from sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, I am deeply distressed to learn of your decision not to abide by the MPAA guidelines for the motion picture rating NC-17.”

Ironically, according to the IFC Center, its principle reason for allowing teens is an educational one.

Last week, the theater released a statement, in which it stated, “This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers, who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds.”

In his letter, however, Winter asks: “At what age, or what unascertained maturity level, will a child be denied entry?”

IFC Center isn’t the only theater to make an exception to the rating system for “Blue.”

Cinemark, which has a general policy of not screening NC-17-rated films, is playing “Blue” in one theater in Evanston, Ill. Unlike the IFC Center, however, the Cinemark theater is not allowing teenagers to see the film.

Regardless, the barbs surely were felt by the IFC Center as Winter finished his letter saying, “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.”

“Blue” expands to 10 markets, totaling 37 locations on Friday.

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  1. Once again, a self-righteous and unelected group attempts to decide for parents what’s best for their kids. When will these folks just leave the parenting to the people who have raised the kids?

  2. Rose says:

    Yet they will let their teens see mindless cruelty and violence — and explicit heterosexual sex. Hmm. Also, do these same parents believe that seeing a film about homosexuality will turn their children gay? I don’t believe this is a film meant for younger teens, however, with the unfettered access to explicit materials, it is foolish to think that banning them means that they are “protected.”

  3. mkd500 says:

    I have a 16 yr old daughter & we live mere blocks from the IFC. All the hullabaloo has only made her MORE interested to see “Blue,” which is totally fine by me. Does anyone think that the average teenager has not already watched hard-core porn on their phones and laptops? Get real. “Blue” involves sex within a passionate relationship, something most teens know something about. In addition, most teens in 2013 are also aware that people of the opposite gender have sex & may well have engaged in same themselves, whether they already know they’re queer or if they’re experimenting. The whole thing is so preposterous and based on some 1950s notion of what a teenager is — but hey, if it drives up box office, fantastic. And I highly doubt the IFC is letting in curious 13 yr olds, or that this film would even be on a 13 yr old’s radar.

  4. fairportfan says:

    For those excoriating “Variety” for describing the PTC as “non-partisan” – they didn’t.

    Note that it says “…a self-described nonpartisan educational org…”

    So it’s a lie by the PTC, rather than a delusion on “Variety”‘s part.

  5. CitizenTM says:

    Not quite normal, me thinks, this citizen. And probably not working in the field of entertainment. Has VARIETY become a consumer mag?

  6. andsoitgoes says:

    Sadly, I can’t reply directly to Wilton, but why, exactly? Because I tend to speak harshly to bigots?

    I’m sorry, but his comments didn’t deserve to get smacked down, and far worse than I’ve done here.

    Attitudes such as his (or possibly hers) are why hate crimes still exist.

  7. boheman1899 says:

    “Comments are moderated” yet this was cleared to be posted?

  8. William Hilton says:

    You are as bad as he is, maybe worse.

  9. Why would IFC be feeling any barbs? Does anyone outside of the right wing care about the PTC?

  10. JC says:

    Calling the PTC “non-partisan” is the funniest thing I’ve read all day. Thanks for the laugh Variety!

  11. Red hot smasher says:

    Thank **** people seem to be reacting sensibly to this (except the right-wing nutjobs). What have you been taking if you somehow believe the PTC (or MPAA for that matter) are even vaguely non-partisan?

  12. Its not like they are out there telling every teenager to come see this movie. Like most independent theatres the management is very passionate about the films they present and likewise will see the desire in a young person as well. Many of those teens maybe looking to get into film and want to tell stories like that. Others might be looking for a fresh new look on the topic. It is the businesses choice to decide who is mature enough to watch. They know their market well enough I would hope to make an informed choice.

    • ianbrettcooper says:

      It shouldn’t be the choice of a business what films my daughter gets to see. It should be her choice and mine as her parent. All a media business should do is offer the media and charge money. When businesses get involved in censoring, that’s going well beyond their mandate.

  13. Glenn says:

    This is hardly news, and Variety shouldn’t be reporting on this nonsense. Members of the PTC would be the first to disown their own child should they exlplore their sexuality or come out as gay, so it comes as no surprise they don’t like what the IFC Center is doing.

    I for one, absolutely applaud and will champion the IFC Center for not adhering to the absolutely assanine ratings system the MPAA emplores (made up pf the very same people that are on the PTC, ironically enough). Blood and guts is ok, nudity is not, ‘Merica!

    • andsoitgoes says:

      As a parent of younger children, i will say that sexuality is VERY different from violence.

      I didn’t necessarily see it that way before I had kids, but having to see both sex and violence from a parental standpoint, sexuality is so much more complex to understand and process, even in adults.

      Violence, while still complex, is a much easier concept to understand and explain.

  14. JakeLomatta says:

    God forbid teens lessen about scary scary sex in a film. This organization gets its funding from the far right. Of course they will hate this movie exists so there weapon is who is seeing. If they do away with sexy faction in schools and don’t have complex answers for their teens concerning sex then this may be their only outlet. When they decide to at least join the 20th century them maybe they should have a larger say. Pretending their own kids have no desires or interest in sex and refuse to have honest discussion with them about safe sex which leads to unwanted or disowned children. The far right in this country that a majority don’t want their Puritan views pushed down our throats. Talk to parents that are honest with their kids concerning sex and the potential dangers. Then talk to the kids of a “sex is evil” family. You often find the less informed is going to rebel and not use protection. Censoring away the dirty thoughts will only cause an explosion of negative explorations by way of rebellion. Good luck with that.

  15. brian fantana says:

    Shame on Variety for giving credence to the PTC’s stance. I realize you guys are the mouthpiece for the industry but for what industry? A right wing television monitoring organization based in Los Angeles is now demanding that a movie theater in the West Village of NYC adhere to their standards and you guys slant your reporting to appear to support them? Shame on you. Truly disappointing.

  16. Dissin Terry says:

    Right, because it’s hard topic, necessary, and artistic viewing that is demaging the children of America. A typical, short-sided point of view from the population that defines ‘protecting their children’ as misinforming and uneducating them about the harsh realities their own children might face in the very near future.

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