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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
US rates Billy with Exorcist
Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot took £1.5m at the UK box office in its first weekend
US film censors have given hit British film Billy Elliot the same certificate as notorious horror movie The Exorcist.

The 'Resticted' or 'R'-rating, given by the Motion Picture Association of America for the film's language, means no-one under the age of 17 can see the movie without an adult.

The film was expected to get a PG-13 certificate allowing young people aged 13 and above to see it - the most common rating for movies not specifically aimed at children.

"It's such a wonderful, inspirational story for teenagers to be exposed to and unfortunately, this one-size-fits-all rating ends up creating some restrictions for us," said Mark Singer, head of marketing at Universal.

The Exorcist
The Exorcist: Re-released with "truly terrifying" previously unseen footage
In the UK anyone aged 15 and above can see it, even though its star is just 14.

Jack Valenti, head of the MPAA, explained the decision saying: "Thirty or 40 times the f-word is used.

"We folks who live in Washington, New York and California thinks everyone talks like we do," he added. "But I get more letters about language than I do about violence."

In the US, where even President Bill Clinton was reported to have seen and enjoyed the film, under 17s will have to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to see the film.

The film centres around a 14-year-old boy's dream to become a ballet dancer against the wishes of his family, against the backdrop of the 1980s miners' strike.

Billy Elliot is the first feature by British theatre director Stephen Daldry, who went to the US to promote the film.

Producers had been hoping it would recreate the success of British movies The Full Monty and Notting Hill.

Originally condemned on its release in 1973 for its "satanic" imagery, The Exorcist - dubbed by many as the "scariest movie ever made" - has been re-released in the US with extra footage.

A new version of the film went on release across the US last month, and stormed straight into the top 10.

See also:

27 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Star 'too young' for première
22 Sep 00 | Entertainment
The Exorcist is restored
02 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Billy's box office leap
27 Sep 00 | Real Time
Who wants to be a boy dancer?
10 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Exorcist finally possesses videos
15 Jun 98 | Entertainment
The Exorcist returns
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