Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, “Scream” is the first movie in the franchise that’s banned under 16 since the original. Françoise Tomé, president of the classification commission, explains why.
Twenty-five years after the release of the original film, Scream returns to the screens. Directed by the duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, this new chapter reopens the doors of Woodsboro for yet another bloody massacre. In the United States, the slasher is classified R – term which designates Restricted in English, i.e. a ban on those under 17. A rather ordinary classification, attributed to a large majority of horror films across the Atlantic.
In France, Scream is prohibited for children under 16 and it is a little more surprising. France is however known to be tolerant on the classification of feature films. Crucially, no sequel to the Wes Craven-launched franchise had received such a ban before.
Asked by AlloCine, Françoise Tomé, president of the classification of cinematographic works, first recalls the process: all visas are granted following discussions within the classification commission. “These debates are confidential, everyone expresses themselves very freely, then we vote by secret ballot.”, she specifies.
To justify the prohibition of Scream, the president talks about “very violent murder scenes”. The saga is not its first bloody crimes, but the sequels that succeeded the original have never been known for their great violence. This new film takes, on the contrary, a malicious pleasure in filming more closely the pain and the scars of its characters. Above all, the third act has a field day with bloodshed.
Such a classification undoubtedly has an impact on admissions and the success of the film in theaters. Françoise Tomé nevertheless explains “that another version was shown to the commission”. After viewing, this less bloody montage was offered a visa with a ban on children under 12. “It was the Paramount distributor who finally made the decision to release the other version, prohibited for children under 16.”, says the president.
“Distributors are represented on the commission like other film professions – authors, producers, exhibitors, critics. Everyone has their say and above all the right to vote to express themselves“, she recalls.
Scream seen by Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, his two iconic heroines
In July 1997, the very first Scream landed in France with, again, a ban on those under 16 years old. A few years later, Wes Craven’s film was finally re-evaluated for an under-12 ban. “It is not rare that the commission is seized again of the same film or in a modified version, which explains why there can be a modification of the visa.”
“is about Scream, the classification commission at the time was actually seized to see an edited version of the film for TV broadcasting which, it received a ban for children under 12”, explains Françoise Tomé. Will it be the same for Scream 2022 release? The future will tell.
Interview by Thomas Desroches, in Paris, January 15, 2022.
Acknowledgements: Françoise Tomé and Vivien Plagnol.