14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (2024)

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Jason Guerrasio

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (1)

  • NC-17 is a rating by the Motion Picture Association that is given to a movie that it deems not suitable for audiences under 18 years old.
  • An NC-17 rating could be due to sex, violence, excessive bad language, and drug use.
  • Here are 14 movies that were originally rated NC-17 until edits were made.

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"Scream"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (2)

Thanks to Drew Barrymore's shocking opening death scene and the movie's clever use of the horror genre, this Wes Craven classic became an instant blockbuster when it opened in winter 1996.

But if Craven had it his way, the movie would have been even more violent.

There were tweaks made to avoid an NC-17 rating, which affected Barrymore's slow-motion death and the final kitchen scene that involved multiple stabbings.

The rating board also wanted to cut the Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) line, "Movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative." But after a lot of back and forth, it stayed in the movie.

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"American Pie"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (3)

A few years after "Scream," this comedy found itself in the crosshairs of the rating board — but not because of its nudity or graphic language, because of that pie.

That's right, the biggest note the movie received was about when Jim (Jason Biggs) pleasures himself with a pie. The scene had to be tweaked so less thrusts were shown.

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"American Psycho"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (4)

Christian Bale's metamorphosis into Patrick Bateman, the main character of Bret Easton Ellis' memorable novel, launched Bale out of the child-actor shadows.

But it wasn't Patrick's murderous ways that angered the rating board; it was the threesome scene between him and two prostitutes.

Director Mary Herron had to trim that scene to score an R rating for the movie.

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"The Boondock Saints"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (5)

This 1999 cult classic, which follows twin brothers who become vigilantes, didn't need to make any vast changes to keep it from becoming NC-17, but it didn't go scot-free.

According to director Troy Duffy, the rating board wanted less blood and slow motion during death scenes. He said that footage was put back in for the release of the movie's unrated version.

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"Pulp Fiction"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (6)

The violence and drug use in Quentin Tarantino's classic made it one you had to see when it hit theaters in 1994. But the rating board wanted to scale both of those things way back — especially a graphic scene in which JohnTravolta's character Vincent Vega accidentally shoots someone in the face.

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"Kill Bill: Vol. 1"

Close to a decade after battling the rating board over "Pulp Fiction," Tarantino had to figure out how to land an R rating for his modern-day martial arts revenge movie starring Uma Thruman.

The movie features a massive action sequence where The Bridge (Thurman) carves up a slew of henchmen with a samurai sword. Tarantino gave it a black-and-white look to tone down all the blood.

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"Sausage Party"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (8)

Part of the draw to see this raunchy animated comedy about supermarket products come to life is its over-the-top graphic content.

Producer Seth Rogen knew that and purposely went crazy with the visuals in an orgy scene so that when the rating board saw it, not all of it would be discarded. He said that, to his surprise, the board's only problem with the scene was the inclusion of pubic hair on a pita-bread character. An R rating was granted once it was removed.

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"Basic Instinct"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (9)

When this erotic thriller opened in 1992, it pushed the envelope of how much sex and violence could be shown on-screen.

Director Paul Verhoeven had to tone some things down to avoid an NC-17 —specifically, an oral sex scene that the rating board felt went too far.

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"The Godfather Part III"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (10)

Francis Ford Coppola's beloved mafia franchise is full of memorable violence: a studio big wig wakes in his bed next to a bloody horse head, and a young Don Corleone (Robert De Niro) slices open an elderly mafia boss.

But one moment in particular almost led to an NC-17 rating. The scene in which Michael Corleone's (Al Pacino) bodyguard kills a rival by stabbing him in the neck with the man's glasses needed to be heavily edited to get an R rating.

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"Casino"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (11)

Martin Scorsese's classic gangster movie set in Las Vegas is arguably his most violent film. A big reason for this is because of a gruesome scene in which Joe Pesci's character puts a rival gangster's head in a vice.

Scorsese was willing to sacrifice the scene so that other violent scenes more important to the story survived the wrath of the rating board. But to the auteur's surprise, when the board was through looking at the film, the vice scene survived, after a few trims.

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"Blue Valentine"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (12)

Sometimes an NC-17 rating can be used as publicity for the movie. For the 2010 Harvey Weinstein-backed drama "Blue Valentine," which focused on the doomed relationship between a couple played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, the board originally labeled it NC-17 for a scene in which Gosling's character performs oral sex.

Outcry over the decision led to the rating being changed to R, and the indie title received loads of publicity months before it opened. Williams went on to receive an Oscar nomination for her performance.

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"Boys Don't Cry"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (13)

This powerful 1999 true-life drama earned Hilary Swank an Oscar for playing Brandon Teena, a woman living as a man and trying to find love in Nebraska.

There was a back-and-forth with the rating board over a scene in which Brandon makes Lana (played by Chloë Sevigny) climax.

The board claimed that the org*sm was too long. Director Kimberly Peirce reluctantly trimmed the scene to get an R rating.

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"South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (14)

The creators of "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have spent their careers pushing the limits of what the rating board will allow.

This was most evident with their 1999 hit movie, which sent the board into a fit over its bad language and a subplot that involved a romantic relationship between Satan and Saddam Hussein. But, finally, enough tweaks were made to get an R rating.

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"Clerks"

14 memorable movies that were almost rated NC-17 (15)

Kevin Smith's raunchy 1994 comedy could have been very different if dramatic steps weren't taken to try to stop the rating board from stripping the movie of its colorful language.

Weinstein's Miramax, which released the movie, hired lawyer Alan Dershowitz, known best at the time for being a part of O.J. Simpson's defense team, to appeal the rating. It was a success.

In 2019, the movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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