Blonde, director Andrew Dominik’s biopic focusing on the troubled life of Marilyn Monroe starring Ana De Armis, has been given an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association on Wednesday.
The rating does not come as much of a surprise considering that Dominik told Screen Daily last month that –
It’s a demanding movie. If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the fucking audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office. It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.
The film is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel of the same name and in addition to De Armis stars Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale and Julianne Nicholson.
Netflix has not yet announced any release plans for the film. It was expected to debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival but that now seems to be off the table. Depending on what the streamer has in store for the film in terms of awards consideration next year, the film might not even get a theatrical distribution.
But not having a theatrical release doesn’t seem like the worse case scenario for the film in this instance.
Previously, an NC-17 was considered a fairly bad thing in terms of a film’s box office potential. When the new rating was launched in 1990, many newspapers had prohibitions against accepting advertising for films over an R rating and many theaters had prohibitions against harder rated films built into their leases, especially for theater multiplex chains connected to shopping malls. These restrictions severely limited the number of venues that an NC-17 film could get booked into, limiting its ultimate box office potential. While the NC-17 was created in response to calls for a rating to denote more adult, but non-pornographic fare, it still ultimately was branded with the same stigma that an X-rating received.
But with Blonde being made available through a streaming app, none of those issues come into play. Netflix doesn’t have to worry about newspaper advertising, uptight landlords or any of the other factors that would have come into play for a film with an NC-17 rating trying to get a more traditional theatrical distribution. By appearing just on the streaming service itself, this gives Blonde more of a chance to get in front of viewers interested in seeing the film than if it were trying to find traditional theatrical venues.