MPAA showers NC-17 on ‘American Psycho’

Lions Gate to appeal after Sundance

Still apparently tougher on sexual than violent imagery, the MPAA has slapped Lions Gate Films’ “American Psycho” with an NC-17 rating. The company plans an appeal.

Directed by Mary Harron, “American Psycho” makes its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Lions Gate execs said they will begin the appeals process after Sundance.

The MPAA has applied its restrictive NC-17 rating due to a single scene that depicts the film’s star, Christian Bale, in a three-way encounter with two prostitutes, played by actresses Cara Seymour and Krista Sutton.

Controversy is not new to “American Psycho”: The novel, written by Bret Easton Ellis, was dropped by Simon & Schuster just prior to publication due to its graphic violence. Upon publication by Vintage, the book was excoriated by critics.

Lions Gate Releasing co-presidents Mark Urman and Tom Ortenberg jumped to Harron’s defense: “We still feel that the scene in question is integral to her vision, and to establishing the soullessness of the film’s title character.”

“The film is not about sex, but about sex as a transaction, so we made it deliberately banal and distant,” Harron said. “That Baterman (Bale’s character) is looking at himself in the mirror and not at his partners seems to be an issue for the MPAA, but his expression sums up his frighteningly detached relationship to the world around him. To me it’s one of the most significant scenes in the film and to cut it would cause serious damage.”

The MPAA could not be reached for comment.