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.
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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.