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New York Theater Will Admit Teens to NC-17 ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’

IFC Center will ignore MPAA's 'voluntary' rating

Those sex scenes in Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour long NC-17 lesbian drama “Blue Is the Warmest Color” have been polarizing the talent, and now exhibitors are taking a stance, too. In New York, high schoolers under 17 will be admitted to see the film.

The IFC Center in Greenwich Village — which falls under the same IFC ownership as distributor Sundance Selects — has said it will not turn away teen-aged viewers, the New York Times A.O. Scott reported. Scott also said that his own 14-year old daughter has seen the film twice.

In a statement, John Vanco, senior veep and general manager of the IFC Center, said that “high school age patrons” would be admitted.”

“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.

The theater added on Thursday: “The MPAA rating is a voluntary guideline that we as a theater are not obligated to enforce. In this case we feel it is unnecessarily restrictive and we will indeed admit high school age patrons to screenings of this perceptive and moving film at the IFC Center.”

With roughly 15 minutes devoted to simulated sex between Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, no one has questioned whether the rating was deserved.

The MPAA reserves an NC-17 rating for any film that “most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under.” Their recommendation to exhibitors is clear: “No children will be admitted.” But the MPAA rating is just a recommendation that doesn’t carry legal or contractual force.

In France, “Blue” has a “12” rating, meaning anyone over that age is permitted to attend. It is the second-least restrictive classification, equivalent to the U.S.’s PG-13. Earlier this month, an arthouse in Idaho garnered attention for vowing not to screen the film due to obscenity laws that affect venues that sell alcohol.

“Blue” has opened well in its first week of release in Gaul; Stateside, IFC is starting out with four screens on Friday.

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