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MPAA upholds
NC-17 rating for Atom Egoyan film

MPAA upholds
NC-17 rating for Atom Egoyan film

Canadian director Atom Egoyan on Wednesday lost his appeal against the commercially damaging NC-17 tag given to his upcoming mystery film Where the Truth Lies, which boasts a male-male-female menage a trois. The Appeals Board of the Motion Picture Association of America's Classification and Rating Board upheld the NC-17 rating after hearing statements from both Egoyan and actress Rachel Blanchard. The rating was given to the film, which will be released by independent distributor ThinkFilm, because of what the board described as "some explicit sexuality." The tag denies entry to anyone aged 17 and under. Some theaters refuse to show such movies.

ThinkFilm requested the appeal after Egoyan had already made several cuts to the film in hopes of receiving an R rating, which requires viewers under 17 to be accompanied by an adult. At issue, according to ThinkFilm, was the mystery's pivotal scene, which involves a menage a trois among Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, and Blanchard, which leads to a young woman's death. According to Egoyan, the shot was filmed as a single sustained master shot and he couldn't cut it any further without rendering the mystery incomprehensible.

"As a parent, I would feel comfortable taking a mature 16- or 17-year-old to this movie," Egoyan said in an interview. "I feel dismayed that they wouldn't now be able to see it in a theater. Yet there is a double standard, because anyone can watch it at their home."

Because of the ruling, ThinkFilm has decided to release Egoyan's original version of the film, which premiered in May at Cannes, before he made any cuts. The company, which isn't an MPAA signatory and isn't required to carry ratings, has not yet decided whether to release it with the NC-17 or unrated. "I wasn't happy with the version I showed this morning," Egoyan added. "The good news is the film will go out as it was originally intended."

ThinkFilm has released unrated films in the past, including its current documentary The Aristocrats. In this case, though, Egoyan was contractually obligated to provide an R-rated cut, and ThinkFilm, convinced of the movie's commerciality, wanted the added playdates that an R rating could contribute. "We believe the film is more mainstream than anything Atom has ever made," said Mark Urman, head of U.S. theatrical at ThinkFilm. "It's also more commercial than anything we've released before. The cast is certainly mainstream, and we believe it's an R-rated film." ThinkFilm is also contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated version to Sony's Columbia TriStar Home Video. Fortunately for Egoyan, ThinkFilm chairman Robert Lantos is also the film's producer, and he supported the decision not to cut the scene in question completely, the director said. (Nicole Sperling, via Reuters)

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