THE MOVIES — The Motion Picture Association of America started rating films 50 years ago, and to mark the anniversary the organization released a study on its ratings over the past half-century as well as an overview of its history and process.
The release, titled “G Is For Golden: The MPAA Film Ratings at 50,” is more than 40 pages long and includes a letter from the CEO, information about the rating process, commentary and opinions on the ratings and even an industry perspective.
But the most interesting section is where they break down the films which have been rated over the past 50 years and compare how many films received each rating.
The findings show that more than half of all movies rated in the past 50 years have been rated R.
Since the rating system began in 1968, nearly 30,000 films have gone through the MPAA’s rating process. Of those, 17,202 have been rated R; 5,578 rated PG; 4,913 rated PG-13 and 1,574 rated G. Five-hundred twenty-four films in that time period have received an NC-17 or X rating.
At first, it may seem like this number is surprising considering PG and PG-13 movies usually bring in more money than R-rated movies, but looks may be deceiving.
While movies with an R rating usually bring in less revenue, they are also usually cheaper to make. This isn’t always the case, but many of the PG-13 blockbusters that bring in loads of cash for studios are also incredibly expensive to make and PG and G films, often animated, are also costly to produce.
Many R-rated films aren’t going for big explosions and CGI, but rather go for drama and smaller set pieces, like indie films. Even R-rated films with “big budgets” are usually cheaper to make than their PG-13 cousins.
For example, “Avengers: Infinity War” brought in more than $675 million in the U.S., but it also cost nearly $400 million to make. The R-rated superhero film “Deadpool” made more than $363 million in the U.S. and cost just under $60 million to make.
This doesn’t necessarily mean studios should be making more R-rated films, but rather that the number of films rated R over the past 50 years isn’t as surprising as it may seem.
It’s also worth noting that the PG-13 rating did not exist until the 1980s, and if a film was deemed too adult for a PG rating then it received an R.
It wasn’t until Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” received a PG from the MPAA that the PG-13 rating was born. According to the MPAA’s release, Spielberg went to then-MPAA CEO Jack Valenti when the director’s film received complaints from parents. They complained after taking their kids to a PG film where a man’s still-beating heart was ripped from his chest and then sacrificed in lava.
Does the amount of R-rated films in the past 50 years surprise you or were you expecting that kind of number? Let us know in the comments.