Rumors have been swirling for the last several months that Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film The Wolf Of Wall Street had enough material in it that it was definitely in danger of receiving an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board. And those rumors have been confirmed in a Hollywood Reporter piece that states that the MPAA has only awarded the darkly comic drama about hard-partying, drug-addicted stockbroker in the 1990s an R rating after the director agreed to “trim certain nudity and sex scenes.”
According to their sources, Paramount, the studio releasing the film, and the ratings board had several back and forth exchanges “in terms of what was needed to secure an R rating.”
What is troubling, is that this sounds like it directly contravenes how the ratings board claims to work. Previously, the board has always stated that it poses no actual guidelines as to what content would constitute a certain ratings, instead alleging that they decide such things on a case-by-case basis so as to not hinder filmmakers from making the film that they wish to make. And when it comes to for a director to try and recut their films for a different rating, the board is supposed to not give any advice as to what to cut.
If indeed the ratings board is giving Scorsese guidance in the form of specifics as to what to trim from his film in order to secure an R rating, then they are in violation of their own alleged procedures for ratings. This doesn’t surprise me though, as Paramount is one of the studios that fund the MPAA and the group does has a long history of being more protective of their sugar daddy studios than of any indie sudio film being submitted for a rating.
The MPAA does not comment publicly on the ratings process for particular films, so we will need either Scorsese or an insider to divulge further details as to exactly how these “exchanges” shaped the film.
The Wolf Of Wall Street, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, is set to open Christmas Day.