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Recently, I went to see L.I.E. at the Neptune theater. I had a lot of different feelings about the movie, which I am still sorting out. But one thing that really got my attention was the NC-17 rating. Because of this rating as much as anything else - this film has almost no advertising, no television, no radio, and only rudimentary newpaper coverage(i.e.,a listing one day a week in the Seattle Times and the P.I.) and perhaps more importantly, it is denied any major distribution - For example, here in Seattle, One whopping screen for the entire Greater Seattle area.

Has anyone else seen this Film, and if so, do they think it deserves this treatment?


-- Frank J. Merritt (frankmerritt@hotmail.com), October 08, 2001


I haven't seen L.I.E. yet (I'm going to try to see it next week on my days off), but I don't think it deserves this kind of treatment. And here's where we get into one of the subjects that is guaranteed to get me all riled up: The MPAA and its ratings systems, specifically the NC-17 rating.

(I had this big long diatribe all typed out when my browser crashed. Obviously IE thought I was getting a little long-winded, so I'll keep this brief. My feelings on the MPAA and my deep-seated hatred of Jack Valenti will just have to wait for another day.)

NC-17 generally equals box-office death, especially for an independent film released by a small distributor. L.I.E. is a perfect example -- it was released by Lot 47 Films, who've only released 16 films.

Interesting factoid for you, Frank: The Seattle Times' advertising policy forbids ads for NC-17 rated films. I picked up that little tidbit from the L.I.E. site's Ratings Game. There's a passel of information at that site, actually. I'll provide the link below.

So, back to the rating. Most movie theater chains won't carry an NC- 17 rated film, newspapers won't advertise it, and the big tv networks won't run trailers for it. It sucks, it's not fair, and it usually ends up biting the little independent filmmaker/distributor right on the ass. Great movies don't get distribution, don't get advertisement, and don't get box-office draw because of the whole no- advertisement thing... so they don't do well in theaters, and eventually they disappear, and the distributor takes a bath on the whole deal. After enough of those a small distributor will eventually go under.

There's a lot of information about the ratings system at the L.I.E. site. I especially like the More Info section -- links to lots of good articles there. The main page regarding ratings is here. Go now and read stuff.

By the way, Frank... you said you had mixed feelings about the film. I know I feel that way about a lot of films right after I see them, usually takes me a couple of days to sort everything out in my head. It's been a few days for you now. Would you recommend this movie to people? If not, why?

-- Wendy (bobfengshui@home.com), October 12, 2001.

Gah, so much for not being long-winded. See what happens when they let me off the leash?

-- Wendy (bobfengshui@home.com), October 12, 2001.

Okay, Wendy, you've called me out. I think that this film is a very strong telling of a certain story - a young boy coming to grips with his sexuality, and whom may or may not be gay. Also in the story is a child sex predator. I genuinely was moved by the story, but was unhappy with the ending. I would recommend it to people to see, and to think about.

-- Frank J. Merritt (frankmerritt@hotmail.com), October 13, 2001.

The MPAA's general problems have been well documented here and around the world. I'll try to keep it to this. Orgasmo got an NC-17 rating while Jaws got a PG. Difference? The studio behind it. The ban on advertising NC-17 films should really be lifted. We all know this. We know the reasons. I'd be preaching to the choir by even trying. I have to stop talking about this or I will break shit. Arrrghh.

Haven't seen L.I.E., but I'm looking forward to it.

-- Michael Fitts (michael@noextraday.com), October 16, 2001.

Also Michael, don't forget the effective ban on Distribution - L.I.E. had, or has, one screen for the entire Greater Seattle Area - How many screens are out here, dozens, a hundred? Yeah, it will also get some video distribution, probably at "arthouse" video shops that we love. Blockbuster, I believe, will not accept "L.I.E." because of its NC-17 rating(I am not a hundred percent sure about Hollywood Video). Cable? Probably next to nothing. Blows like that are likely to give even the most open minded independent producers/distributors pause. Forget about the Studios.

-- Frank J. Merritt (frankmerritt@hotmail.com), October 19, 2001.

Hollywood Video will probably carry it, at least the one on Broadway will (and other similarly non-suburban locations as well, I'd wager). I rented Henry and June there this summer, and for the love of god, they're the only video store I know of that carries The Pirate Movie. As for cable, maybe Showtime will pick it up -- didn't they run the Dominique Swain-Jeremy Irons version of Lolita when no studio would release it in theaters? I think they ran Orgazmo a few times this year as well.

It'll get seen. Just not by as many people as it should. Damn shame.

-- Wendy (bobfengshui@home.com), October 19, 2001.

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