25 R-Rated Movies That Were Originally NC-17

The recent critical and commercial success of Joker and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has confirmed how R-rated movies really can perform at the box office.

However, movies issued the next most restricted rating, the NC-17, will unlikely ever witness a similar renaissance, due to their strictly limited cinematic releases.

This reality can result in such adult-themed films receiving another edit and resubmission to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the hopes of being rated R.

From erotic arthouse to X-rated ultra-violence, the following movies have had to appeal or re-edit to overcome MPAA objections and acquire a coveted R rating.

1. American Pie

1999 ‧ Comedy/Romance ‧ 1h 36m

American Pie
Eugene Levy having awkward conversation with Jason Biggs over Hustler Magazine in a scene from the film 'American Pie', 1999 Universal/Getty Images

Five best friends enter a pact to lose their virginity before their high school prom night.

The movie included the now-notorious pie scene and graphic account of teenage parties, leading to the MPAA requiring re-edits to earn the film an R-rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "So embarrassing it's believable, American Pie succeeds in bringing back the teen movie genre."

Stream on Peacock

2. American Psycho

2000 ‧ Horror/Mystery ‧ 1h 44m

American Psycho
Christian Bale at pay phone in a scene from the film 'American Psycho', 2000 Lion's Gate/Getty Images

A successful investment banker suppresses his psychopathic ego from society before finally submitting to insatiable bloodlust.

The MPAA ordered several seconds of a controversial scene involving two sex workers to be cut from the dark comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale."

Stream on FuboTV

3. Basic Instinct

1992 ‧ Thriller/Mystery ‧ 2h 8m

Basic Instinct
American actors Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone on the set of Basic Instinct directed by Dutch Paul Verhoeven Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

A detective tasked with investigating a man's murder suspects the victim's girlfriend before falling in love with her.

Little of the original movie was actually changed in order for Basic Instinct to receive an R rating from the MPAA, with scenes instead simply shot from slightly less explicit angles.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Unevenly echoing the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Basic Instinct contains a star-making performance from Sharon Stone, but is ultimately undone by its problematic, overly lurid plot."

4. Blue Valentine

2010 ‧ Romance/Drama ‧ 2 hours

Blue Valentine
Actress Michelle Williams and actor Ryan Gosling attend the Blue Valentine After Party at Palais Stephanie during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2010 in Cannes George Pimentel/FilmMagic

A young couple's dysfunctional marriage tragically unravels while they attempt to raise their child together.

Scenes depicting the couples' love life initially proved problematic with the MPAA, but the off-kilter romance movie successfully appealed the rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "This emotionally gripping examination of a marriage on the rocks isn't always easy to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling give performances of unusual depth and power."

5. The Boondock Saints

1999 ‧ Crime/Thriller ‧ 1h 50m

The Boondock SaintsFranchise Pictures Brood Syndicate Fried
The Boondock Saints: Two brothers are inspired by their faith to cleanse their hometown of evil with zealous vigilante justice Franchise Pictures Brood Syndicate Fried Films Lloyd Segan Company Chris Brinker Productions

Two brothers are inspired by their faith to cleanse their hometown of evil with zealous vigilante justice.

The MPAA required some of the graphic violence to be reshot before the movie could receive an R rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "A juvenile, ugly movie that represents the worst tendencies of directors channeling Tarantino."

6. Boogie Nights

1997 ‧ Drama/Indie film ‧ 2h 36m

Boogie Nights
Actor Mark Wahlberg on set of the movie "Boogie Nights" , circa 1997 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A teenage man is discovered by a porn director who transforms him into adult-film sensation Dirk Diggler.

When the producers of Boogie Nights sent their initial cut to the MPAA, it was rated NC-17, but the association relented after just 40 seconds of adult material was cut.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg."

7. Clerks

1994 ‧ Comedy/Buddy ‧ 1h 45m

Actors Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran on set of the Miramax movie "Clerks", circa 1994 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The movie follows a day in the lives of two convenience clerks who annoy customers, discuss films and fool about.

This successful low-budget movie was originally rated NC-17 due to the frequently explicit dialogue.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "With its quirky characters and clever, quotable dialogue, Clerks is the ultimate clarion call for slackers everywhere to unite, and, uh, do something, we guess?"

8. The Doors

1991 ‧ Drama/Music ‧ 2h 21m

The Doors
Val Kilmer at the microphone in a scene from the film 'The Doors', 1991 Carolco/Getty Images

This is a biographical depiction of 1960s rock band singer Jim Morrison's life from his rise to stardom as The Doors' lead singer to his early death. The MPAA was reportedly unhappy with the movie's nudity and coarse language and required re-edits to be made.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Val Kilmer delivers a powerhouse performance as one of rock's most incendiary figures, but unfortunately, Oliver Stone is unable to shed much light on the circus surrounding the star."

9. Eyes Wide Shut

1999 ‧ Mystery/Drama ‧ 2h 45m

Eyes Wide Shut
Tom Cruise kissing Nicole Kidman in a scene from the film 'Eyes Wide Shut', 1999 Warner Brothers/Getty Images

After a man's wife admits to sexually fantasizing about someone else, the couple attends an elite underground swingers club.

Movie studio Warner Bros. was reportedly under contract to provide Eyes Wide Shut with a coveted R rating regardless of how risqué some scenes were.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "[Director Stanley] Kubrick's intense study of the human psyche yields an impressive cinematic work."

10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

1988 ‧ Horror/Slasher ‧ 1h 52m

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: A woman uses her psychic powers and accidentally resurrects dreaded mass murderer Jason Voorhees Paramount Pictures

A woman uses her psychic powers and accidentally resurrects dreaded mass murderer Jason Voorhees.

The MPAA reportedly demanded approximately 20 scenes had to be re-edited or reshot for the horror movie to receive an R-rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "As lumbering and bereft of conscious thought as its unstoppable star, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood finds the franchise in desperate need of the title ingredient."

Stream on Starz

11. The Godfather Part III

1990 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 50m

The Godfather: Part III
American actor Al Pacino with director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola on the set of his movie The Godfather: Part III Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Micheal Corleone decides to end his family's criminal empire and selects his ambitious nephew as his successor.

Graphic violence and strong language meant the MPAA stipulated numerous edits were needed for the final film in the trilogy to receive an R rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "The final installment of The Godfather saga recalls its predecessors' power when it's strictly business, but underwhelming performances and confused tonality brings less closure to the Corleone story."

Stream on FuboTV

12. Inside Deep Throat

2005 ‧ Documentary/Indie film ‧ 1h 32m

Inside Deep Throat
American actor Linda Lovelace, star of the film ' Deep Throat' gives an interview in Los Angeles, October 1973 Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

This documentary examines the notorious pornographic movie Deep Throat, including an interview with the lead actress Linda Lovelace. The 2005 film originally showed un-cut scenes from the 1970 adult movie which required a re-edit.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "A documentary on the film that brought smut mainstream, Inside Deep Throat is gaining praise as an entertaining look at a pop-culture milestone. However, some critics say the film could have gone a little deeper into the people involved."

13. Jackass: The Movie

2002 ‧ Comedy/Slapstick ‧ 1h 27m

Jackass: The Movie
Jason 'Wee Man' Acu–a, Johnny Knoxville and others ride a shopping cart in a scene from the film 'Jackass: The Movie', 2002 Paramount/Getty Images

Johnny Knoxville and his juvenile friends childishly prank, embarrass and torture each other for the audience's entertainment fun.

While the MPAA objected to several scenes in Jackass: The Movie, it flat-out refused to include the film's final skit titled "Toy Car Butt X-Ray."

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "There's a good chance you'll be laughing hysterically at one stunt, but getting grossed out by the next one in this big-screen version of the controversial MTV show."

Stream on Paramount Plus

14. Kill Bill: Vol. 1

2003 ‧ Action/Crime ‧ 1h 52m

Kill Bill: Volume 1
Hollywood screen goddess, Uma Thurman stars in "Kill Bill: Volume 1" directed by Quentin Tarantino in 2003 Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Pregnant assassin The Bride wakes from a coma to seek revenge on her ex-boss Bill and his associates.

When Quentin Tarantino submitted Kill Bill: Vol. 1 to the MPAA it received an R, but the director then reportedly included an extra minute for the Japanese release which would have made the film deserve the NC-17 rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Kill Bill is admittedly little more than a stylish revenge thriller—albeit one that benefits from a wildly inventive surfeit of style."

15. Lust, Caution

2007 ‧ War/Thriller ‧ 2h 39m

Lust, Caution
Actress Tang Wei attends "Lust, Caution" Korea Premiere Press Conference at Shilla Hotel on October 29, 2007 in Seoul, South Korea Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Chinese university students from The University of Hong Kong plot to seduce then assassinate a powerful politician.

The movie was released in the U.S. as NC-17 due to its explicit sex scenes after director Ang Lee refused to cut 10 minutes from the film. A separate R-rate version was later released.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is a tense, sensual and beautifully-shot espionage film."

16. Natural Born Killers

1994 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 2m

Natural Born Killers
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in front of a car in a scene from the film 'Natural Born Killers', 1994 Warner Brothers/Getty Images

A serial killer-couple become tabloid-TV darlings due to a sensationalistic press campaign. The MPAA demanded four minutes of scenes depicting extreme violence, strong language and graphic sexuality be left on the cutting room floor in order to gain the R rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Natural Born Killers explodes off the screen with style, but its satire is too blunt to offer any fresh insight into celebrity or crime—pummeling the audience with depravity until the effect becomes deadening."

Stream on Starz

17. Predator 2

1990 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 1h 48m

predator 2
Predator 2: A U.S. military team are tasked with tracking a deadly alien hunter killing drug gangs in Los Angeles Silver Pictures, Gordon Company, Davis Entertainment

A U.S. military team is tasked with tracking a deadly alien hunter killing drug gangs in Los Angeles. The original cut of Predator 2 was extremely intense and the movie had to be recut approximately 20 times before the MPAA gave its blessing.

Move critic Janet Maslin of The New York Times described the movie as "an unbeatable contender" for the "most mindless, mean-spirited action film of the holiday season."

Stream on Hulu

18. Pulp Fiction

1994 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 58m

Pulp Fiction
Actor John Travolta and director Quentin Tarantino in a publicity still for the Miramax movie 'Pulp Fiction' in September 1994 in Los Angeles Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The lives of two LA mobsters, a gangster's wife, a boxer and two small-time criminals become entangled in the course of a day.

Although numerous expletives had to be cut from the movie to gain its R rating, the word f**k and its derivatives still feature 265 times in Pulp Fiction.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "One of the most influential films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humor, and pop-culture touchstones."

19. Requiem for a Dream

2000 ‧ Drama/Psychological thriller ‧ 1h 50m

Requiem for a Dream
Actors Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly lie on the floor in a scene from the film, 'Requiem for a Dream,' directed by Darren Aronovsky, 2000 Artisan Entertainment/Courtesy of Getty Images

The drug-addled lives of four young New Yorkers are shattered when their addictions spiral out of control.

The MPAA stamped the movie with an NC-17 rating, but director Darren Aronofsky appealed, stating a certain explicit scene was vital to the narrative.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Though the movie may be too intense for some to stomach, the wonderful performances and the bleak imagery are hard to forget"

20. Robocop

1987 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 1h 43m

Peter Weller grabs Kurtwood Smith by the neck in a scene from the film 'RoboCop', 1987 Orion/Getty Images

A horrifically injured policeman returns to the force at a crime-ridden city as a deadly cyborg.

With its scenes of graphic violence, the original version of Robocop had to be significantly altered to earn the movie an R rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "While over-the-top and gory, RoboCop is also a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultra-violence to disguise its satire of American culture."

Stream on Paramount Plus

21. Scarface

1983 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 50m

Actor Al Pacino stars in 'Scarface', 1983 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tony Montana builds a drug empire in Miami, but his problems start to spiral out of control as his ego and enemies grow.

The MPAA initially issued Scarface with an X-rating, but it was overturned and replaced with an R rating on appeal after director Brian De Palma tweaked a chainsaw scene to satisfy the agency.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino take it to the limit in this stylized, ultra-violent and eminently quotable gangster epic that walks a thin white line between moral drama and celebratory excess."

22. Scary Movie 2

2001 ‧ Horror/Comedy ‧ 1h 29m

Scary Movie 2
Director Keenen Ivory Wayans and Shawn Wayans in between scenes for the film 'Scary Movie 2', 2001 Dimension Films/Getty Images

Four teens tricked by their teacher into visiting a haunted house for a school project believe they have witnessed paranormal activities.

Some scenes featuring gratuitous use of sex had to be left on the cutting room floor to allow the horror-comedy an R rating, although these were made available as DVD extras.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Instead of being funny, this gross-out sequel plays like a sloppy, rushed-out product."

23. Scream

1996 ‧ Horror/Mystery ‧ 1h 51m

American actress Drew Barrymore at the UK premiere of Wes Craven's horror film, 'Scream', at the Chelsea Cinema, London, 24th April 1997 Dave Benett/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One year after a woman's mother is murdered, several more deaths occur and everyone appears to be a suspect.

The MPAA had an issue with Scream's iconic opening sequence, which they declared too intense to initially issue the movie with an R rating. It was eventually granted after director Wes Craven made some cuts.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some."

24. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

1999 ‧ Musical/Comedy ‧ 1h 21m

South Park, Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Trey Parker, Matt Stone,and Marc Shaiman, American creators of,'South Park, Bigger, Longer and Uncut,' (nominated for Best Song) at the Oscars, Los Angeles, California. Parker wears a facsimile of Jennifer Lopez's green Versace Grammy Award dress, Stone wears a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow's pink Ralph Lauren gown from the 1999 Oscars, and Shaiman wears a furry blue jacket and fedora Paul Fenton/Fotos International/Getty Images

The friends are caught watching an R-rated movie featuring Canadians Terrance and Phillip and the innocuous situation escalates to the brink of a world war.

The MPAA bristled at the movie's original title All Hell Breaks Loose due to the inclusion of the word "Hell" in an animated title.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Its jokes are profoundly bold and rude but incredibly funny at the same time."

25. Summer of Sam

1999 ‧ Crime/Drama ‧ 2h 22m

Summer Of Sam
Spike Lee publicity portrait for the film 'Summer Of Sam', 1999 Touchstone/Getty Images

During the sweltering summer of 1977, the Son of Sam serial killer keeps all of New York City on edge.

The MPAA required particularly graphic scenes to be edited out due to their raw and explicit nature before granting the R rating.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics' consensus states: "Spike Lee offers intense visuals but his storytelling feels crowded and overambitious"

Newsweek has affiliate partnerships. If you make a purchase using our links, we may earn a share of the sale.

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts