Blue Valentine, an already critically-acclaimed film generating Oscar buzz, won't be released until the end of the year, and if the MPAA gets its way, it likely won't be showing at a theatre near you.
The Motion Picture Association of America rated the rollercoaster romance NC-17, restricting audiences to adults over 17, and guaranteeing that many cinemas across the country will choose not to include the movie on their marquees.
The NC-17 rating, once known more ominously as "X," can – and will, according to the film's producers, the Weinstein Co. – be appealed. Alternatively, the film can be edited, reviewed again and given a less restrictive rating, or the filmmakers can forgo an MPAA rating and sell the film to theatres without a rating.
The MPAA won't confirm why the movie received the rating it did, but the indy romance, directed by Derek Cianfrance and staring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, follows the couple's tumultuous relationship and includes a drunken sex scene in a hotel room.
"We want to express our deepest gratitude to our colleagues in the industry and in the media for their recent outpouring of support for Derek Cianfrance's 'Blue Valentine' after the film surprisingly received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA," Weinstein Co. chief Harvey Weinstein said in statement. "We are taking every possible step to contest the MPAA's decision.
"We respect the work of the MPAA and we hope, after having a chance to sit down with them, they will see that our appeal is reasonable, and the film, which is an honest and personal portrait of a relationship, would be significantly harmed by such a rating."
The MPAA replied with a statement to ABCNews.com:
"It's not our policy to comment on individual films until the rating has been accepted, and then only to state the rating and the reason for the rating.
"Every film is screened by a group of raters who are parents, who apply the standard of what the majority of American parents would rate the film. As part of the classification and ratings process, when a rating is offered every independent filmmaker has the option of accepting the rating, appealing the rating, editing the film and resubmitting it or releasing the film unrated.
"If they choose to appeal the rating, the appeals board is composed of distributors, exhibitors, and industry people who will either uphold or overturn the rating."
While a final NC-17 rating can spell paltry sales at the box office, the whiff of a preliminary NC-17 rating – with its promise of sex and violence -- can increase interest in a movie.
In chronological order, ABC News.com presents some of the most popular films to ever earn the NC-17 rating:
Released in 1969, before NC-17 became an official MPAA rating, "Midnight Cowboy," starring Dustin Hoffman and John Voigt, became the first X-rated film to earn an Academy Award.
The film, which follows the story of a struggling male hustler and his conman friend struggling to get by in New York City, earned Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film, which includes a scene referencing gay sex, earned an X rating and opened to limited release in 1969. Following its Academy Awards coup, the MPAA revised the film's rating to R, meaning parents could accompany minors to screenings when the film was re-released in 1971.