When the new Evil Dead was first submitted to the MPAA, they gave it the NC-17 rating. This means that no children under seventeen can be admitted to see the film.
Director Fede Alvarez tweeted:
Was proud of scoring a NC17 when submitted! But we had to cut stuff out to get an R and get the film into theaters.
The NC-17 the only rating at the MPAA’s disposal that outright blocks certain members of the audience. With an R rating, for example, a customer aged under seventeen will be admitted when accompanied by an adult of twenty one or over.
The US cinema chains don’t like NC-17 films. Presumably it’s simply because they’re bad for business but there might be issues with conservative advertisers and the like.
Now, in the UK we have two ratings that outright bar customers below certain ages. The 15 certificate means a customer must be fifteen years of age or older, and it’s the same story with 18, just three years advanced.
Evil Dead is likely, in its R-rated version to score a 15 certificate. This translation is pretty common, from R to 15. Sometimes an R ends up being 18, but not quite so often.
The argument, I would suppose, is that the UK system prevents freedom. That in the US, if somebody wants to take their seven year old to see Hostel, they can and that’s a freedom they’re entitled to.
Fede Alvarez finished his film the way he liked it, the way he wanted it and then market forces meant that he had to cut it so young kids in the audience could drive up its box-office. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about that picture.
Note that Evil Dead wasn’t cut to be particularly child-suitable. It hasn’t been made into The Care Bears. It was just put into parameters where it can be expected to play out without protest or fuss and keep sucking in the dollars.
I wish adult audiences in America would support the NC-17 rating the way adult audiences in the UK support 18 certificate films. We don’t feel the need to take our youngsters to everything, but we do respect being able to see films the way filmmakers wanted us to.
Of course, UK readers should note that we’re now going to get the cut version of Evil Dead. It’s been a very rare occurrance that we’ve had an untouched version of something that was hacked up for an R in the US. Not since Eyes Wide Shut, off the top of my head.
Fundamentally, the trade off here has been between adults being able to see a film the way it was intended and kids being admitted to see not entirely suitable scenes of violence. It’s really not a fair trade at all.