Lars Von Trier returned to the American art house scene this week with “The House That Jack Built,” a film so gory it prompted mass walkouts at Cannes. And yet, on its one-day-only preview engagement on 140 screens, it has already made more than half the U.S. total of the director’s previous film, “Nymphomaniac.”
On Wednesday, IFC screened a special, unrated director’s cut of the film, which follows a serial killer who mutilates the women and children he targets. The film made $172,131, approximately 53 percent of the $327,167 that “Nymphomaniac: Volume II” made in the U.S. back in 2014.
But the special screening could spell trouble for IFC, as the MPAA has informed the distributor that it has violated the ratings agency’s rules by screening the unrated version so close to the release of the R-Rated version on December 14.
A hearing on the unrated screening will be held by the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Administration, and could lead to sanctions against IFC including suspension from the ratings system or removal of the main release’s R rating.
“The effectiveness of the MPAA ratings depends on our ability to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents,” the MPAA said in a statement. “That’s why the rules clearly outline the proper use of the ratings. Failure to comply with the rules can create confusion among parents and undermine the rating system — and may result in the imposition of sanctions against the film’s submitter.”
“The House That Jack Built” marked Von Trier’s return to Cannes after he was temporarily banned from the festival in 2011 for jokes he made about Adolf Hitler. The film was reported to have triggered approximately 100 walkouts during the screening because of its excessive violence.
“It is a repulsive thing to watch, perhaps made even more repulsive by the fact that you know your feelings of disgust are pretty much what von Trier wants you to feel,” TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in May.