Sony Pictures Classics will release an uncut NC-17 version ofDavid MacKenzie's drama Young Adam in the US next month following yesterday's failed eleventh hourbid to overturn the restrictive rating.

The picture's veteran British producer Jeremy Thomas flew fromLondon to attend a special LA screening and appeal hearing before the MotionPicture Association of America's (MPAA) ratings board.

However the 10-member panel refused to backtrack on the rating,initially awarded last autumn, and is understood to have been concerned by thepicture's sexual content and in particular a scene where the characters makelove while fully clothed.

Young Adam premiered at Cannes last year and stars Ewan McGregor, TildaSwinton and Peter Mullan in the tale of a drifter who gets involved in amarried couple's troubled relationship.

The decision means Thomas will have produced two NC-17 ratedpictures out this year following Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, which opened in February through FoxSearchlight. Thomas was also behind the controversial Fine Line release Crash which was released with an NC-17 in 1996.

Last night the producer said he was standing by the originalversion of the picture and would not lodge any further appeals. "I find itstrange because the rating is usually given for extreme works and I don't thinkthis film is extreme," he told

"The rating has a certain meaning here and the film's sensibilityis so far removed from that of an ultra-violent film."

By contrast The Passion Of The Christ, which Newmarket Films opened at numberone in the US and has grossed more than $264m in three weeks, has raisedeyebrows over its depictions of torture and carries an R rating. Significantly,perhaps, it contains no scenes of strong sexual content.

Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard said that while hewas "very unhappy", the ruling left the limited release on Apr 16 largelyunchanged, although he hinted it could affect future expansion plans.

"We feel that to be lumped with a rating that is typically awardedto pornography is a disservice to a quality film like this," Bernard "Young Adam now carries the same rating as Debbie Does Dallas 2.

"They should have a 'hard R'rating to distinguish quality films from pornography because otherwise theassociation evoked by an NC-17 rating does us no favours."

Bernard continued: "We anticipated this but don't want to cut thefilm out of respect for the public and the film-maker.

"It just meanswe're going to suffer in certain 'Religious Right' neighbourhoods. Newspapersin Seattle and Salt Lake City won't carry our ads now and we won't be able toopen in some malls across the country."