Kevin Smith Wins Appeal for Film Rating

Filmmaker Kevin Smith has won an appeal to lower the cinema rating for his comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) board members had initially given the comedy, starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, an adults-only certification of NC-17, which would have prohibited people younger than 17 from seeing it.

The Clerks director then censored two of the movie’s sex scenes involving co-stars Jason Mewes and Katie Morgan, but failed to convince the board to lower the rating to an R.

He subsequently launched an appeal against the decision–and on Tuesday the MPAA announced that its appeals panel, which is separate from the ratings board, had screened the movie, about two friends who launch an amateur porn studio, and decided to revise the rating to an R.

Smith explains, “We didn’t set out to make an NC-17 film. That’s just commercial suicide…

“They felt it was rather sexually graphic. My point is, it was comically graphic. All the sex in the movie with the exception of one scene is very cartoonish, very campy. It wasn’t designed to titillate.”

And Smith is confident the title alone will filter out audiences who could be offended by the content: “Anybody not inclined to see a movie with `Porno’ in the title is not going to see it, so it kind of regulates itself to a degree. And anybody who is going is not going to be surprised by what they see.”

The new rating will allow those under 17 to watch the film, due later this year, in the company of an adult.

It is not the first time Smith has gone to battle to reduce his films’ ratings. His 1994 debut Clerks was originally stamped with an NC-17 that was lowered to an R on appeal, and his 2004 romantic comedy Jersey Girl was brought down to PG-13 from an R rating.