US film censors, the Motion Picture Association of America, the major studios, and the National Association of
Theatre Owners are the targets of a proposed class action lawsuit that if accepted by judge and not barred by the First Amendment, calls for all movies to be rated at least R if they feature tobacco imagery.
The lawsuit claims that since at least 2003, Hollywood has known that tobacco imagery in films rated G, PG, and PG-13, is one of the major causes of children becoming addicted to nicotine. Disney, Paramount, Sony, Fox, Universal and
Warner Bros. are said to have been given recommendations from health experts at leading universities throughout the country as well as the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the American Public Health Association, and yet are
allegedly continuing to stamp their seal of approval on films meant for children that feature tobacco imagery.
Among the films cited are Spectre , Dumb and Dumber To , Transformers: Age of Extinction , X-Men: Days of Future Past , The Amazing Spider Man 2 , The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug , Iron Man 3, Men in Black 3 and The Woman in Black .
The lawsuit demands a declaratory judgment that the industry's film ratings practices amount are negligent, false and misleading and a breach of fiduciary and statutory duties. The lawsuit also aims for an injunction where no films featuring tobacco
imagery can be given G, PG or PG-13 ratings.
The MPAA representing Hollywood's major studios along with theatre owners are contesting a lawsuit ludicrously calling
for an R rating for children's movies that depict smoking.
The MPAA notes that it doesn't want to be held hostage to any misguided morality play that seeks to force them not to have any movies with tobacco imagery rated G, PG or PG-13.
Court papers have been filed asking a judge to reject a putative class action that blames them for children becoming addicted to nicotine.
Anti-smoking campaigners have flagged such films as Dumb and Dumber To , Transformers: Age of Extinction and Iron Man 3 as among those featuring tobacco-related imagery that are being seen by young audiences.
The Hollywood defendants warned the judge that, soon, they might be forced to give R ratings to all films that depict alcohol use, gambling, contact sports, bullying, consumption of soda or fatty foods, or high-speed driving.
David Lowery, the director of the new Disney live-action remake of Pete's Dragon has been interviewed by
. He spoke of a new contractual clause with Disney that prohibits the inclusion of scenes depicting tobacco smoking. He said:
And you can't have smoking anymore! The scene in that movie that had the biggest impact to me was Pinocchio smoking a cigar and turning red. When you sign a contract with Disney, the things it says your film cannot have are beheadings, impalement or
smoking. Those are literally the three things you are not allowed to put into a Disney film.
...But yeah, they literally have those words in the contract as things you're not allowed to do and that rules out Pinocchio , which has the smoking.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAAP and the National Association of Theatre Owners have come out victorious in
a lawsuit that ludicrously claimed that tobacco imagery in films rated G, PG or PG-13 causes 200,000 children every year to become cigarette smokers and 64,000 people to die as a result.
Now U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed an attempt to hold major film studios and theater owners legally responsible.
The legal action by Timothy Forsyth claimed that the industry's film-ratings practices amounted to negligence, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, false advertising, unfair competition and nuisance.
In response, Hollywood argued that ratings merely reflect opinions about what's suitable for children and compelling them to give R ratings to anything found socially unacceptable could apply to films depicting activity like alcohol use, gambling,
contact sports, high-speed driving and so forth.
The judge wrote:
Forsyth insists that a rating less stringent than R is a representation that 'the film is suitable for children under seventeen unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. The ratings plainly make no such representations. Rather, the PG and PG-13 ratings
caution parents that material in such movies may be inappropriate for children. More fundamentally, the ratings reflect the consensus opinion of CARA board members. As such, neither intentional nor negligent misrepresentation claims are tenable as
The judge also noted that Forsyth also failed to prove his other claims.