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How are Movies Rated?

Movies are rated by organizations like the MPAA, which assess content such as violence, language, and sexual themes. A team views the film, discusses its elements, and assigns a rating that guides viewers on age-appropriateness. Understanding this process helps you make informed viewing choices. What do you think influences their decisions the most? Join the conversation and explore the intricacies of film ratings.
Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

When you look at an advertisement for a movie, there should be a rating symbol next to the name of the film. This is known as the film's classification or rating. The rating gives the intended viewer an idea of the type of content that the film contains and the intended age of the viewer. Films are given a rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The process of submitting a film to the MPAA is purely voluntary for the filmmaker. The majority of film makers submit their films to receive a rating. If they are not happy with the rating they receive, they have the option of recutting the film. The filmmaker is also free to market his or her films without a rating.

Graphic violence will usually earn a movie a more restrictive MPAA rating.
Graphic violence will usually earn a movie a more restrictive MPAA rating.

Films are given their ratings by a board of members. There is a special committee approved and designed specifically for the ratings purpose. Members of the committee view and discuss each film before deciding, based on its content, which age group it would be most suitable for.

Factors such as sexual content, violence, nudity, language, and theme all play a part in the ratings decision. Another factor is how the content material is used in the context of the film. Ratings are not used in a critical sense; they only provide a guide to the age group for which a certain film is most suited.

When a film is rated PG, it means parents should determine whether it is appropriate for their child.
When a film is rated PG, it means parents should determine whether it is appropriate for their child.

There are five different film classifications. Movies rated G are deemed suitable for a general audience. People of any age can be admitted to them. There should be nothing in the film that can be considered harmful to even the youngest member of a family. G movies should contain no nudity, drug use, profanity, or sexual scenes.

Parental guidance, or PG, is the next step up in the movie ratings system. PG movies may not be suitable for very young children. They may contain scenes that younger children will not understand or may find offensive. They should not contain drug use or sexual scenes. There may be some moderate nudity and violence in movies rated PG.

PG13 movies are inadvisable for children under the age of 13. There may be scenes of violence, some drug use, and some profanity. There is usually not any strong sexual content in these movies.

Submitting a movie for rating to the MPAA is a voluntary process for the filmmaker.
Submitting a movie for rating to the MPAA is a voluntary process for the filmmaker.

The next movie classification is R. Movies rated R, or restricted, contain adult content and material. An R rated film could contain strong language, sexual scenes, violence, and scenes of drug use. Anyone aged 17 or under should be accompanied by an adult or guardian to an R rated movie.

The final movie rating classification is restricted under 17, or NC-17. Anyone aged 17 or under will not be admitted to NC-17 movies. They may contain scenes of an explicitly sexual nature, very strong violence, and sexual language.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for rating movies?

Minor violence such as street fights may be too much for young children, but not enough to warrant a PG or higher rating.
Minor violence such as street fights may be too much for young children, but not enough to warrant a PG or higher rating.

Movie ratings are typically determined by a designated classification board or ratings organization. In the United States, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) operates the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA), which issues ratings like G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 based on content suitability for different audiences.

What criteria are used to rate movies?

Graphic violence can warrant a PG-13 or R rating for a movie, depending on the severity.
Graphic violence can warrant a PG-13 or R rating for a movie, depending on the severity.

Ratings are based on several factors, including violence, language, sexual content, drug use, and thematic elements. The goal is to provide guidance to consumers, especially parents, about the appropriateness of the content for children and general audiences. Each country has its own system and criteria for rating films.

How does the movie rating process work?

A group of raters, often parents themselves, watch the entire film and then discuss the appropriate rating based on the established criteria. They consider various aspects such as context, frequency, and intensity of content. The final rating is assigned to help viewers make informed viewing choices.

Can a movie's rating be appealed or changed?

Yes, filmmakers have the right to appeal a rating decision if they disagree with it. An appeals board, separate from the original rating committee, will review the film and the contested rating. The filmmaker may also choose to edit the film and resubmit it for a new rating.

Are movie ratings legally enforceable?

Movie ratings are not legally binding, but they are widely respected by theaters and retailers. In many countries, cinemas enforce age restrictions based on ratings, and retailers often follow voluntary guidelines regarding the sale and rental of home video releases to minors.

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Discussion Comments

anon935689

I think that there are many overrated movies and that they should be changed. Forest Gump is a huge letdown. So is Caddyshack.

anon261642

The MPAA just wants to make money. "The Hunger Games" shows kids killing kids. PG-13 -- really?

geronimo8

I'm glad that most movies go through this process of being assigned ratings. It makes it much easier for me to pick out movies that are appropriate for my family. I can't even imagine what it would be like without this convenience. I don't think we would have family movie night nearly as often!

heath925

It is very common for me to disagree with current movie ratings. I tend to stick with a rating one step down from what is recommended for my kids. It seems like I often find that I think the rating of a movie should be higher than it is.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, or maybe my kids are just very sensitive. But it seems like they don't even really enjoy, and are often scared by, movies with a PG rating, which should be fine for them.

Plus, I have seen a lot of PG-13 movies and wondered why they weren't rated R. I think it's really up to parents to view movies and decide what is right for their children.

JoseJames

I seems like the ratings systems have changed throughout the years. I remember when the warriors came out in the 80's it had an R rating. But compared to movies today it would have got a Pg13 or lower. They didn't have PG13's back then they only had G, PG and R back then.

I remember right around the time in the 90's when NC17 first came about. I think the movie striptease was the first movie to have a theatrical release with the rating in the USA.

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    • Graphic violence will usually earn a movie a more restrictive MPAA rating.
      By: Scott Griessel
      Graphic violence will usually earn a movie a more restrictive MPAA rating.
    • When a film is rated PG, it means parents should determine whether it is appropriate for their child.
      By: goodluz
      When a film is rated PG, it means parents should determine whether it is appropriate for their child.
    • Submitting a movie for rating to the MPAA is a voluntary process for the filmmaker.
      By: Joe Ross
      Submitting a movie for rating to the MPAA is a voluntary process for the filmmaker.
    • Minor violence such as street fights may be too much for young children, but not enough to warrant a PG or higher rating.
      By: Monkey Business
      Minor violence such as street fights may be too much for young children, but not enough to warrant a PG or higher rating.
    • Graphic violence can warrant a PG-13 or R rating for a movie, depending on the severity.
      By: BortN66
      Graphic violence can warrant a PG-13 or R rating for a movie, depending on the severity.