The Dutch filmmaker, whose R-rated 1990 film featured Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas, has accused studio executives of being too preoccupied with money and ratings to tackle racy material on the big screen.

"If you say it (film) has to be PG-13, there are a lot of things you cannot do," Verhoeven told Agence France Press (AFP) at the American Film Institute (AFI) festival.

"You cannot be provocative, you cannot be controversial, you cannot be sexual, erotic, in a direct way. Instead movies have to be suggestive, elliptic and whatever...," he added, "and so then the movies become neutral and the movies are not challenging you in any way."

He suggested American filmmakers should follow the examples set by their French counterparts, adding, "There's no problem in France. As a director you can do what you want.

Verhoeven was at the AFI festival to promote his latest movie, Elle, a dark comedy that has been chosen as France's pick for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards next year (17). The film stars French actress Isabelle Huppert as a rape victim searching for the man who attacked her.