Film-rating descriptors to add detail
05:00 AM, Apr 16, 2013
LAS VEGAS Hollywood will employ a redesigned rating system to inform parents of what their children are watching, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday.
While studios will still retain the current rating grades from G to NC-17, the MPAA will include a redesign and new wording to inform parents that trailers have been approved to be attached to films, and are not simply “suitable” for viewing, MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said during his speech to theater owners at CinemaCon.
A “Check the Box” ratings campaign begins this month, with theatrical posters and televised public service announcements alerting parents that there’s more in the ratings box than just the letter grade.
“It’s the responsible thing to do,” says Dodd, a former U.S. senator. “We want parents to know what they’re walking into.”
Film ratings dominated Tuesday’s speech by Dodd and John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). Fithian says the change comes on the heels of a Federal Trade Commission report that shows about 75% of juveniles who tried to walk into an R-rated movie last year were stopped.
“Three out of four is a great number,” Fithian says. “But we won’t stop there. We want four out of four.”
Fithian also called on studios to produce more PG-13 films which, he says, on average do twice the business of R-rated films. Yet Hollywood churns out about 50% more R films than PG-13s.
“I know it’s cool to be Quentin Tarantino … and explore all of the things that you can (with an R rating),” he says. “But audiences are telling us, ‘We want more family films.’ So do we.”
While Dodd sidestepped whether Hollywood was too addicted to gun violence, he says the industry can improve its communication with parents.
“We’re not movie critics; it isn’t our job to judge what’s coming out,” he says. “But it is our job to provide information. We want to let people know they have choices when they go to the movies, and this will help in that choice.”
The MPAA and NATO say 2012 was a banner year for U.S. ticket sales, which hit a record $10.8 billion, thanks primarily to a 6% surge in attendance, the largest bump in a decade. Dodd and Fithian dismissed this year’s slow start, which lags last year’s in ticket sales and attendance by double digits.
“People keep writing the obituary on the movies,” Dodd says. “But as long as there are good stories to be told, people will gather with strangers in a movie theater to see it.”