Matthew McConaughey's Killer Joe Not Cutting Sexual Violence, Will Release With NC-17

Hollywood hunk's latest big-screen foray will unspool this summer as an adults-only affair because of its purportedly graphic content

By Josh Grossberg May 09, 2012 5:55 PMTags
Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey, Killer JoeVoltage Pictures

As Matthew McConaughey gets older, his movies are apparently getting more X-rated.

Actually, make that NC-17—that's the rating his black comedy Killer Joe will be hitting theaters with after the film's director, William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection), and indie distributor LD Entertainment lost their appeal for an R and have refused to cut another frame.

And that's just fine by them.

"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 27 in its original version as an NC-17 film," company head David Dinerstein said in a statement.

The Motion Picture Association of America slapped Killer Joe with an NC-17 back in February, barring anyone under the age of 17 from seeing it. In reaching its decision and sticking by it, the MPAA cited graphic sexual content, violence and one scene in particular of a brutal sexual act.

Given that many theater chains refuse to exhibit NC-17 movies, the decision to accept the rating will limit the number of screens Killer Joe can play on, severely curtailing its box-office potential and hurting the awards buzz generated over the Hollywood hunk's performance. McConaughey has also earned some of the best accolades of his career for his performance as a killer who befriends a young man (Emile Hirsch) who wants him to murder his mother.

Dinerstein added that the filmmakers are sticking to their guns, however, after Killer Joe drew an enthusiastic response when it played the Venice, Toronto and South by Southwest film festivals. 

The flick costars Thomas Haden ChurchGina Gershon and Juno Temple.

When E! News caught up with Gershon at South by Southwest, the actress told us at the time she hoped it wouldn't snag an NC-17 because she really wanted the widest possible audience to see it.

"People just need to know it's a very intense R. It's a very intense, emotional and visceral film," Gershon said. "The whole thing is so arbitrary and so random. I've certainly seen a lot of movies that are just as violent as this and they're an R."

—Additional reporting by Marc Malkin