My collection of rants and raves about technology, my kids and family, social/cultural phenomena, and inconsistencies in the media and politics.


R rated movies on the decline

As reported in Variety, studios are making less R movies and more PG or PG-13 movies. The headline suggests it is a result of the political climate, but the story spends more words talking about the cultural climate. They do suggest PG-13 movies are a safer gamble than R movies, and movie producers are savvy gamblers.

PG-13 films have eclipsed R's as the largest sector of the market, grossing a combined $4.4 billion, a 48% share of the market.

No single cause is likely responsible for the shift, but many execs cite one factor: the voluntary guidelines studios and exhibs adopted five years ago. Those regs restrict the marketing of R-rated films to kids, which in theory ensures that only people 17 and older can buy tickets to R-rated films.


"You're leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table with an R rating," says one studio marketing exec. "Why? For artistic integrity? Let's be real."


(At the same time, there is evidence that today's PG-13 is more like yesterday's R. Last summer, a Harvard study found that current films with PG-13 ratings and below had more violence, sex and profanity than films of the same ratings 10 years prior.)

Some see the decline in grosses for R films as a barometer of the cultural climate. "Hollywood has done a great job of making PG movies that don't just appeal to kids but appeal to everybody," says Revolution partner Tom Sherak.

So producers are trimming their R movies down to PG-13, but PG-13 movies show more than R movies did a generation ago. Are we better or worse now than we used to be? I think better. A good rating system should cover the entire spectrum (or at least the useful spectrum) and allow the consumer to make educated choices. I don't believe R or even NC-17 movies should be banned - there's some content which cannot, in my opinion, be accurately portrayed under a lesser rating. The Passion of the Christ (R) sits as one example -- the Bible may be good for all manner of instruction, but it deals with many topics that cannot earn a G rating without losing much of their significance. Having G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 gives us the information to choose a movie based on the kinds of content we're comfortable with. And yet, as I'm discovering with games for the PlayStation 2, they don't tell the whole story. About a month ago, we bought Disney Extreme Skating Adventure (rated E for Everyone) for Ethan. The content is certainly acceptable, but the game play is way beyond him. On the other hand, The Incredibles game (rated T for Teen, not sure why) is something he can at least make through the first level. I have also discovered that Ec (Early Childhood) games are extremely hard to find for the PS2. Just goes to show, rating systems only rate one thing -- they're useless beyond that.


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