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Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built': IFC Films Could Face MPAA Sanctions for Unrated Screenings

Indie distributor could face sanctions from the industry group over Wednesday screenings

IFC Films could face sanctions from the MPAA due to Wednesday’s nationwide screenings of an unrated version of Lars von Trier’s art-house gorefest “The House That Jack Built,” the organization said.

“The MPAA has communicated to the distributor, IFC Films, that the screening of an unrated version of the film in such close proximity to the release of the rated version — without obtaining a waiver — is in violation of the rating system’s rules,” the MPAA said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The effectiveness of the MPAA ratings depends on our ability to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents,” the organization continued. “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.”

On Wednesday, IFC Films staged a one-night-only screening of an uncut version of von Trier’s ultraviolent film starring Matt Dillon as a serial killer in more than 100 theaters nationwide — less than three weeks before the Dec. 14 release of an R-rated version in select theaters and on-demand platforms.

According to the rules of the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Administration, which oversees the film ratings system, the indie studio could face disciplinary action including the revocation of the film’s R rating and even a temporary suspension from the ratings system.

A rep for IFC Films, whose longtime co-president Jonathan Sehring announced Wednesday he was stepping down, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The film, which includes graphic depictions of the mutilation of men, women and children, prompted widespread walkouts during its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for what early critics called its “vomitive” and “turturous” content.

“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 critic Steve Pond wrote in May.