13 Films That Escaped An NC-17 Rating And How They Pulled It Off

·5 min read

What is an NC-17 rating for a movie? According to the Motion Picture Association (MPA), it means "no one seventeen and under admitted."

NC-17 rating screen
MPA / Via youtube.com

The most recent example of an NC-17 rating is the controversial Netflix movie Blonde, and only about 80 US movies have ever received the rare rating.

Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in the movie Blonde

Some theaters won't even show NC-17 movies. If you listen closely after a film lands an NC-17 rating, you can hear all that studio money burning away and an executive producer punching the air.

Nickelodeon Animation Studio

So, I gathered 13 movies that were almost NC-17, but with the magic of editing and that handy-dandy delete button, avoided the dreaded rating:

🚨Content warning: This post contains mentions of rape and violence.🚨


Drew Barrymore on the phone

Although the changes made to this film were mere seconds, and almost indiscernible from the theatrical release, director Wes Craven had to edit down violent shots, with the biggest cutdowns dealt to the kitchen stabbings at the end of the movie.

Dimension Films

2.American Pie

Father enters a room and looks shocked

Of all the raunchy things in this movie, it should be no surprise that the infamous "pie" scene was the moment the MPA told the filmmakers to tone down. The theatrical version simply shows lead character Jim turned around with his pants down and the pie...in front of his nether regions.

Universal Pictures

3.American Psycho

Christian Bale smiles while waiting to see Paul Allen's business card

During main character Patrick Bateman's threesome with two women, there was apparently more to the scene that the MPA thought was too much. So, the scene was trimmed down by a couple seconds to bring the film back down to an R rating. I'm sure Bateman was fine with it, as long as the shots of him stayed in the film.



Chris Rock looks concerned

According to director Darren Lynn Bousman, there was a scene where someone in a trap container had their face cut off. But in the theatrical release, the only thing that got "cut" was that scene, which ultimately helped it maintain an R rating.


5.The Boondock Saints

Boondock Saints brothers hold guns while praying

The cult classic about two brothers becoming vigilantes was initially too violent for the MPA. Director Troy Duffy said in an interview with IGN that the original had "a lot more blood work, and a lot more sort of slow-motion gun ballet violence in it." To avoid the NC-17 rating, the film had to snip a lot of the shootout scenes, which allowed the saints to go marching into theaters.

Franchise Pictures

6.Pulp Fiction

John Travolta dancing in a groovy way

The Quentin Tarantino classic was all over the board when trimming down scenes to avoid an NC-17 rating. From graphic violence to drug use, language to sexuality, and even a head-explosion scene, Tarantino cleaned up the final cut of Pulp Fiction (while still keeping the film's edge) and landed an R rating.

Miramax Films

7.Kill Bill: Vol I

The Bride wields a samurai sword

Tarantino once again worked his magic in the editing process in a unique and stylistic way to keep Kill Bill at an R rating. For some sequences heavy on blood, he altered the footage to black and white.

Tarantino said, “black and white did make the movie go down easier.”

Miramax Films

8.Sausage Party

Animated hot dogs look freaked out

From a food orgy to violence, Seth Rogen acknowledged that the raunchy animated comedy Sausage Party had to place a lot of dirty humor on the cutting board for the movie to stay at an R rating. One specific example: They got rid of pubic hair on a pita bread character's scrotum.

Sony Pictures Releasing

9.Basic Instinct

Sharon Stone sits with her legs crossed

The edits for this thriller shockingly had nothing to do with Sharon Stone's infamous leg cross. Director Paul Verhoeven trimmed out some violence and sexual moments (specifically one involving oral sex), which only totaled a minute of film time chopped.

TriStar Pictures

10.The Godfather: Part III

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone

"Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in." The Godfather franchise became famous for its violent mob hit scenes. Unlike the first two films, the MPA ruled Part III's violence as excessive, landing it an NC-17 rating. Some violent visuals had to be cut in order to obtain a "restricted" R rating — specifically, the neck-snapping death of Don Licio Lucchesi.

Paramount Pictures


Joe Pesci yells at Robert De Niro in a desert

Director Martin Scorsese created a scene that involved torturing a man by having his "head in a vice" as a "decoy" for the MPA. He was ready to cut the scene, but kept it in order to distract from the other gratuitous segments of the film. The scene stayed, and the simplest trimming of other violent scenes helped Scorsese dodge an NC-17 "hit."

Universal Pictures

12.Law Abiding Citizen

Jamie Foxx listens intently

The crime drama starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler had multiple graphic elements cut out of the film, including a rape scene, a decapitated head, and moments of bloody violence. These scenes are present in the director's cut, but needed to be removed for the film to release with an R rating.

Overture Films

13.Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling looks off into the distance

Just two months before its release, Blue Valentine stared an NC-17 rating in the face. The film contains a sex scene where a woman receives oral sex, and the MPA gave it the thumbs down. There was public outcry about double standards that was actually all the film needed, because the MPA rescinded their initial NC-17 ruling.

Hunting Lane Films

Did any of these surprise you? Would an NC-17 rating turn you away from watching a movie? Comment below!