NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Film Audiences Know What They Don't Want -- But Does Hollywood?

October 10, 2000

Experts report that the top-grossing movies almost always have G or PG ratings. Yet film studios are increasingly pumping out PG-13 or R films which rely on sex and violence. What's going on here?

  • According to the website Box Office Guru, only one of the 20 highest-grossing movies ever produced was R-rated -- "Beverly Hills Cop" -- while half had G or PG ratings, and most of those requiring parental guidance were mild.
  • A study conducted recently by economist Arthur De Vany, of the University of California-Irvine, showed that R-rated films were less than half as likely as PG-rated movies to reach $25 million in domestic box-office revenues -- and the median gross of PG movies was more than three times that of R movies, while G pictures earned the most of all.
  • But according to the Motion Picture Association of America, 468 films had an R rating in 1999 -- 69 percent of all films rated and up 25 percent from 1993.
  • The number of PG films slipped 35 percent in that period.

Those familiar with Hollywood accuse producers of dredging up sex and violence when their imaginations fail them. Animated features, they say, do not lend themselves as readily to tasteless scenes of blood and gore -- and those films are cleaning up at the box office.

As for the threats of politicians to clean up Hollywood, film fans have already shown they can take care of themselves by voting for cleaner fare with their entertainment dollars.

Source: Kimberley A. Strassel, "Movie-Goers Toon Out Sex and Violence," Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2000.

 

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