The upcoming Netflix film about the life of Marilyn Monroe had been rumored to be a unique film in the history of the streaming service. And now the MPAA has confirmed that Blonde, starring Ana de Armas in the lead role, will in fact be the first NC-17 rated original Netflix production. However, the reason for the rating is perhaps a little interesting, as the only given reason is “some sexual content.”
The director of the film, Andrew Dominik, had previously indicated that he expected Blonde to be rated NC-17, so the fact that the rating has come through is not all that surprising. However, considering how specific the MPAA can get with some film descriptions, we might have expected more detail around the rating than simply “sexual situations.” The same description is often given to R-rated movies, so this description doesn’t really tell why Blonde is worthy of the NC-17 rating.
Certainly one has to assume that the sexual situations that we will see in Blonde will be something a bit stronger than the description may indicate. Of course, what that means we don’t really know. We might expect to see a description like nudity accompany this, but it does not, which would indicate we might be getting a movie that provides some powerful and suggestive sexual moments without actually including any nudity. One would guess making such a movie would be difficult for Ana de Armas, but the actress has said the hardest thing about playing Marilyn Monroe was the voice.
Traditionally, the NC-17 rating is a quite rare result at the MPAA. Most theaters won’t carry such movies, so in the instances when the rating is given, cuts are almost always made in order to get the rating down to the more theater friendly R. It happened to horror movie Midsommer and even the animated Sausage Party had to make cuts to avoid the rating. This is, of course, less of an issue for Netflix, as the streaming service can make whatever movies it wants with any rating to put on its own streaming service.
Having said that, this will be the first NC-17 rated Netflix original film. So while the streaming service could make a lot more movies with that rating, it hasn’t done so-- although one does sometimes find movies with that rating on the service.
What does make the situation a bit unique for Netflix is that, when an NC-17 movie is released in theaters, those under 17 are not allowed to buy a ticket under any circumstances. In the case of Netflix, anybody with access to an account, that isn’t sufficiently managed with parental controls, will have access to the movie.
While there may be a lot going on in Blonde to get it an NC-17 rating, Ana de Armas clearly thinks the movie is special and the fact that Netflix even got the movie rated by the MPAA, rather than using TV ratings, as many of its original movies do, would indicate Netflix sees this as a major film, even if most theaters may not show it.
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