After months of press that would plague a film of far less stature, the team and distributors behind the French Palme D’Or-winning drama Blue is the Warmest Color can breathe another minor sigh of relief. Following the decision at the IFC Center in New York to allow younger patrons into the film (and stepping on the MPAA’s authority in the process), Cinemark has agreed to screen the film as well – at least, in one of their theaters.
Cinemark Theaters, the third largest movie theater chain in the United States, has lifted its ban against playing NC-17 rated films after booking the hot-buttoned coming of age love story of two young women in one theater in Illinois. The Texas-based theater chain will allow the Cinemark 12 in Evanston, Illinois to play the film, which was given the restrictive NC-17 rating for sexual content. That content has been commented and debated about amongst critics, film aficionados, festival jury members, and members of the cast and crew since the film premiered last May at the Cannes Film Festival, marking Blue is the Warmest Color one of the most controversial films of the year. Vulture provided a thorough time line of all the films post-debut challenges for the uninitiated.
The rating itself seemed a given after the film’s festival premiere, and its stateside distributor Sundance Selects (owned by IFC Films) never bothered to challenge it. The rating makes it harder for films to book theaters and properly advertise, as many newspapers and publications refuse to carry ads for NC-17 rated films and many theater chains won’t exhibit those titles. A Cinemark rep describes this as “one-theater test,” and the Century 12 manager Wally Bobkiewicz said, “This is in part in response to our concerns from residents that [we] weren’t showing enough art movies.” Whatever the case, it marks a small victory of the French drama, which opened just last week in the United States to solid box office numbers in limited engagements, as well as validation for an earlier pieces that grabbed the press when the film was banned in the state of Idaho.
It’s been a rocky road to say the least for the romantic drama directed by Abdellatif Kechiche that stars Adéle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, but if nothing else the film is certainly provoking a debate about art and sensorship. Which in the end, as the film is being made available to more and more audiences, may make it all worth it.