Cinemark Breaks Its NC-17 Ban for 'Blue Is the Warmest Color'

The Texas-based multiplex chain allows one theater in Illinois the opportunity to screen the steamy teen romance.

Texas-based movie theater chain Cinemark is breaking its own rule of prohibiting NC-17 films, and will allow the Century 12 in Evanston, Ill., to show the Palme d'Or-winning Blue Is the Warmest Color.

The film follows the life of a beautiful French teenager (Adele Exarchopoulos) who finds herself sexually attracted to women, then falls head-over-heels in love with an art school student (Lea Seydoux) she meets in a lesbian bar. The film received the adults-only MPAA rating due to several lengthy sex scenes between the two stars that leave little to the imagination.

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A Cinemark rep tells the Evanston Patch that the company is showing an NC-17 film for the first time as part of a "one-theater test," and that the policy change does not extend to Cinemark's 300 theaters across the country. "It just happens to be the right movie at the right time," the rep said.

The Century 12 manager, Wally Bobkiewicz, says the exception comes as the result of talks he had with corporate head office: "This is in part in response to our concerns from residents that [we] weren't showing enough art movies," Bobkiewicz said.

Blue has been the source of much controversy since landing on U.S. shores last week. Director and stars have sparred recently in the press over working conditions on set. An Idaho theater refused to screen the film, saying it violates a state statute. Then IFC Center, a theater in New York's West Village, refused to abide by the NC-17 rating, saying it would allow curious teens the chance to see the coming-of-age film for themselves.

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Meanwhile, Manohla Dargis, film critic for the New York Times, penned a lengthy op-ed in the newspaper explaining why she felt the film, from director Abdellatif Kechiche, presented a male-skewed and fundamentally sexist view of feminine sexuality.

The film opened to strong numbers when it debuted last week on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, taking in $101,116, the best opening for a foreign-language film so far this year.