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Useful Notes / Adults Only Film Rating

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No children, no X-ceptions.
Other rating systems' counterparts to this rating:
  • BBFC 18 ratings
  • Australian Classifiation Board R18+ ratings
  • TV Parental Guidelines TV-MA ratings or Too Hot for TV
  • French classification as "Forbidden under 18"

One of the age ratings of the Motion Picture Association. This rating is aimed at people who are at least eighteen years old. This is why it is termed "NC-17". It is the film equivalent of Adults Only Rating (ESRB).

The rating was first introduced in 1990 as a means of supplanting the X rating, which had been introduced alongside the rest of the MPAA film rating system in 1968 and indicated a film rejected by the Motion Picture Code and Rating Administration, only to be co-opted by pornographic filmmakers due to it not being trademarked by the MPAA; such appropriation also included exaggerations of the rating that gave rise to the now-iconic use of "XXX" to denote pornographic content (though in its original use, a triple-X denoted hardcore porn specifically; "XX" was used to denote softcore pornography, and a regular X to denote material that wasn't outright pornographic but still too adult for an R-rating). As a result, the X rating became almost exclusively associated with porn in the minds of the general public, leading the MPAA to devise "NC-17" as a means of recapturing the original intent of the X rating in a way that permitted them greater control over its usage, specifically by going out of their way to trademark it this time. The first film to be given an NC-17 rating was Henry & June in 1990; the film was originally given an X rating by the MPAA, but the introduction of NC-17 soon afterwards led to the film being released with the new rating instead.

In its original form, NC-17 only meant "no individuals below the age of 17 permitted," but was revised in 1996 to mean "no individuals at or below the age of 17 permitted," essentially becoming a more roundabout way of saying "18+". This revision marks the most recent adjustment to the MPAA rating system to date, with the standard set in 1996 still being upheld to this day.

Despite the NC-17 rating being devised to specifically cut out the association with porn that came to plague the X rating, the stigma ended up carrying over to the newer designation instead, resulting in theaters being highly reluctant to screen any NC-17 movies and retailers refusing to stock home video releases of them. As a result, NC-17, like X before it, is often subject to an antithesis of Avoid the Dreaded G Rating, in which filmmakers and producers go out of their way to censor their films to ensure that the highest rating they get is an R. Also carrying over from the days of the X rating, if a film has enough explicit content in it to warrant an NC-17 rating in theory, most of the time the distributors would instead release it "Unrated," as that designation lacks the same level of stigma as X and NC-17, leading to it being more easily distributed in theaters and on store shelves; the allure of a film being "too mature to rate" also helps in marketing it towards curious audiences.

Films on this wiki that have been given this rating (* meaning it also has an R-rated edit; for films released before 1990 but re-rated NC-17 since then, † means it was originally released with an X rating, and ‡ means it was originally unrated):

  • 100 Tears: extreme horror violence.
  • Angel Heart*†: a scene of explicit sexual content
  • Bad Education (2004)*: a scene of explicit sexual content
  • Bad Lieutenant*: sexual violence, strong sexual situations & dialogue, graphic drug use
  • Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
  • Blonde: some sexual content
  • Blow Upnote 
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: explicit sexual content
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover*‡note 
  • Crash*: numerous explicit sex scenes
  • The Devils*†
  • The Dreamers*: explicit sexual content
  • The Evil Dead (1981)‡: substantial graphic horror violence and gore note 
  • Female Trouble†: explicit sexuality and nudity
  • Friday the 13th*†: graphic horror violence note 
  • Frontier(s)note 
  • Greetings *† note 
  • Heavy Traffic*†
  • Henry & June: explicit sexual content note 
  • In the Realm of the Senses
  • Killer Joe*: graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality. note 
  • Last Tango in Paris*†: some explicit sexual content
  • Lucky Bastard: for explicit sexual content
  • Lust, Caution*: some explicit sexuality
  • Man Bites Dog: strong graphic violence
  • Ms. 45*†: graphic violence, including of a sexual nature
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street*†: graphic horror violence note 
  • Orgazmo: explicit sexual content and dialogue note 
  • Pink Flamingos†: a wide range of perversions in explicit detail note 
  • Saw 3D*: graphic horror violence note 
  • A Serbian Film: extreme aberrant sexual and violent content including explicit dialogue note 
  • Shame: some explicit sexual content
  • Showgirls*: nudity and erotic sexuality throughout, and for some graphic language and sexual violence note 
  • The Street Fighter*†: graphic martial arts violence note 
  • Swearnet: some explicit sexual content, graphic nudity and for language
  • This Film is Not Yet Rated : some graphic sexual content note