Deadline reports that the William Friedkin-directed black comedy Killer Joe will be released by LD Entertainment on July 27 with an NC-17 rating. The film received that rating in late February, and the decision was made after the distributor and filmmaker unsuccessfully went through the appeals process before deciding they didn’t want to change the ending.
It’s not the first time Friedkin turned in a cut of a film that drew a dreaded rating from the MPAA. While Friedkin tackled rough subject matter in films like The Exorcist and To Live And Die In L.A., he got an X-rating for the 1980 film Cruising, in which Al Pacino played a detective who goes undercover looking for a killer preying on gay men. Friedkin said he had to cut 40 minutes of that movie to get an R rating. But he won’t have to cut a frame of Killer Joe. LD Entertainment will release a trailer for the film tomorrow, and it will wear the NC-17 rating like a red badge of courage.
Killer Joe is a garish, sexy black comedy that stars Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church. It is provocative, but played strongly in Venice, Toronto (where it was acquired by LD Entertainment) and SXSW.
LD Entertainment’s Dinerstein confirmed the decision and issued this statement: “We support the artistic integrity of our filmmakers — Academy–award winning director, William Friedkin and our screenwriter Pulitzer-Prize winner Tracy Letts — and the film will be released in theaters on July 27th in its original version as an NC-17 film. The film has played to enthusiastic crowds at the Venice, Toronto and SXSW Film Festivals where many critics have noted this is Matthew McConaughey’s best performance to date. As our initial LD Entertainment release, we are to excited to bring this very entertaining, funny and provocative film to audiences this summer.”