The US film censorship system has a notable large gap between the PG-13 rating and the R rating which would called a 17A in UK terms. There is clearly a need for a rating around the 15 level.
A New York cinema has made the news this week by
overriding the MPAA rating for a couple of films that would occupy this 15 rated middle ground. Film ratings are voluntary in the US, so they are legally allowed to do this.
IFC Center, a major independent cinema has decided to defy the
MPAA's R ratings for the documentary on Ed Snowden by Laura Poitras, Citizenfour , and for Richard Linklater's film Boyhood . The cinema announced the decision on notices as follows:
While the MPAA
has assigned BOYHOOD a rating of R, recommending that no one under 17 be admitted without a parent or guardian, IFC Center feels that the film is appropriate viewing for mature adolescents. Accordingly, the theater will admit high school age patrons at
For comparison the BBFC rated both films 15 as follows:
Boyhood. Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex references, drug use for:
Citizenfour. Passed 15 uncut for strong language for:
BBFC advised category cuts were made for UK cinema and home video releases of Paul WS Anderson's Pompeii .
The BBFC commented at the time of the cinema release:
This work was originally seen for advice.
The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a 15 certificate but that their preferred 12A classification could be achieved by making some changes.
The company was advised:
to reduce stronger moments of violence where there was a dwelling on particular acts and
to reduce the emphasis on blood on bladed weapons.
When the film was formally submitted, changes had been made which addressed these concerns. Consequently, the film was passed 12A.
Now Movie-Censorship.com reveals that the BBFC advised category cuts were
adopted for US PG-13 rated release and also for FSK 12 rated release in Germany. Presumably the BBFC cuts therefore apply worldwide.
BBFC advised category cuts similarly found there way into the worldwide Theatrical Version of Brett Ratner's Hercules
. But at least in this case there was an Extended Version released on US Blu-ray which restored the cuts. The Extended Version is MPAA Unrated in the US but has not been released in the UK.
MPAA officials and studio executives have announced the launch of WhereToWatch.com website touting that it will provide a place to find legal options to buy, rent, stream or watch films.
We connect you directly to content sites that provide
every option available to buy, rent or stream the title you're looking for, MPAA Chairman-CEO Chris Dodd said in a blog post . Provide a zip code and we'll provide you with show times and locations for movies in theaters nearby. You can watch
trailers and check out behind-the-scenes features produced by our online magazine, The Credits.
The films featured are available through 30 sites. Among them are big sites like iTunes, Amazon and Hulu and smaller sites like SnagFilms and
The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug [Extended Edition] is a 2013 USA/New Zealand fantasy adventure by Peter Jackson. Starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.
About an hour
into The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug , there's a scene that takes place between Elvenking Thranduil (Lee Pace) and his son Legolas (Orlando Bloom) where they're interrogating a captured Orc.
Thranduil ends up killing the Orc by
brutally taking off his head. As the camera pulls back on the scene you can see the Orc's lifeless body twitching in its last moments of life until Thranduil steps on his foot to make him stop.
On the Blu-Ray commentary director Peter Jackson
refers to the Orc's appendage as the R-rated twitching foot:
When the film went to the MPAA, the thing that they were most concerned about was the twitching leg
Jackson was intent on leaving
the scene in the film and the film was awarded the required PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
In the UK, the BBFC likewise passed the film 12 uncut for moderate violence, threat. The same
rating applied to both the Theatrical Version and the Extended Edition.
But for the home video the distributors in the UK were not quite so wound up by the possibility of a higher rating.
The Extended Edition has been released with a 15
certificate, not because of the 12 rated main feature, but because of one of the extras being 15 rated: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug - Extended Edition - Business Of The State The Master's Chambers [Additional Material]
UK: The main feature was passed 12 uncut for moderate violence, threat for, but the disks have gone out with a 15 rating for:
2014 Warner [2D + 3D Extended Version] Bookend Edition R0 Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 3rd November
2014 Warner [2D + 3D Extended Version] Steelbook R0 Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 3rd
2014 Warner [2D + 3D Extended Version] R0 Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 3rd
2014 Warner [Extended Version] R1 DVD at UK Amazon released on 3rd November 2014
Parents can become less sensitive to violence and sex in movies after watching only a few scenes with disturbing content, according to a study published in Pediatrics that was conducted by researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
Parents viewed three brief pairs of movie scenes featuring either violent or sexual content. After seeing the first movie clip, the parents thought the minimum age on average to see a movie with that content should be 16.9 years old
for violence or 17.2 years old for sex. After watching the sixth and final scene, the parents were more willing to let younger teens see the movies, 13.9 years for violence and 14 years for sex -- lowering the minimum age by three years or more.
Dan Romer, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and the study's lead author said:
We know these scenes are somewhat disturbing to parents. When they first see them, they
say you shouldn't let someone younger than 17 see them -- which is comparable to an R rating. But they get more and more accepting of that content as they're watching it.
The study Parental Desensitization to
Violence and Sex in Movie s, will be published in the November 2014 issue of Pediatrics. The findings were based on an online survey of 1,000 parents who have children from ages 6 to 17. The movie scenes came from popular films targeted at
youth (PG-13), rated R (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) or unrated in DVD versions.
The study comes as scenes of sex and violence become more prevalent in movies aimed at youth. A 2013 study in Pediatrics
from APPC researchers showed that the amount of violence in PG-13 movies tripled in the most popular movies since 1985. That study also found that the amount of gun violence in popular PG-13 movies in 2012 actually exceeded that in popular R-rated
movies. Another APPC study in Pediatrics in 2013 found that movie violence was associated with sex and alcohol use as often in PG-13 as R-rated movies.
The possible effect on movie raters
noted that people who rate movies for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), who are themselves parents, could be subject to the same desensitization and thus more likely to be lenient when it comes to evaluating the appropriateness of such
content for children. The study said this effect could help to explain the ratings creep that has allowed more violence into films aimed at youth.
Parents in the study viewed scenes from six of these eight movies: 8
Mile (2002, rated R); Casino Royale (2006, PG-13); Collateral (2004, R); Taken 2 (2012, PG-13); Die Hard (1988, R); Live Free or Die Hard (2007, unrated DVD); The Terminator (1984, R); and Terminator
Salvation (2009, PG-13).
Pride is a 2014 UK comedy drama by Matthew Warchus. Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Dominic West.
U.K. gay activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the
National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.
BBFC: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex references
MPAA: Rated R for language and brief sexual content.
Pride has been hailed
by critics, winning acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, but a film about gay activists who raised money to help South Wales families during the 1984 miners' strike has received a US rating pretty much in line with that of the UK
Picture Association of America has ruled the film was R rated, which would be noted as 17A in the UK (ie cinema customers have to be 17 and over to watch it in their own right, but there are no age restrictions for children accompanied by an adult).
Gay activist Peter Tatchell was offended by the R rating, or perhaps offended by the fact that the USA simply doesn't have a rating between its 13 and 17 ratings. He said:
It is outrageous, knee-jerk homophobia.
There's no significant sex or violence in Pride to justify strong ratings.
The American classification board seems to automatically view any film with even the mildest gay content as unfit for people under 17.
On its website, the BBFC explains its 15 rating of Stephen Beresford's film as being based on
occasional strong language and some scenes with sexual references. One shows men in a gay club wearing 'bondage' clothing .
Of course if people think that the BBFC rating of 15 is about right then it is inevitable and correct that it
should be R in the US.
On the other hand perhaps the BBFC rating is harsh too. Other international ratings awarded so far are:
As a producer of one of the handful of NC-17 films ever made, Lucky Bastard, I can tell you it's like the guys on Jackass finding out what happens when you get kicked in the nuts: Yes, it hurts like hell.
Can you point to any decent action in a recent big-budget American movie? Action that isn't edited to ribbons so that it looks like a bunch of fuzzy arms and legs flying across the screen in a spasmodic flurry of movement?
Boyhood is a 2014 USA drama by Richard Linklater. Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.
US : Rated R (17A) for language including sexual references, and For teen drug and alcohol use.
UK : Rated 15 uncut for strong language, sex references, drug use
The USA lacks a rating for mid teens. There is a PG-13 rating for young teens but the next step is an R rating which is in UK terms a 17A rating. So movies
that are 15 rated in the UK have to be overrated with a 17 rating in the US. It is often cited as a criticism of the US system that something as trivial as a couple of 'fucks' tips a movie from a 13 rating to a 17 rating. One such example is Richard
Richard Linklater's Boyhood was given an R-rating, despite the fact that it quite realistically charts the growth of a contemporary suburban child up until his college years. Naturally, the MPAA wants to protect any kid
who might actually watch something that, critics say, accurately depicts their own lives. But distributor IFC Films isn't having it.
In response to the R-rating, IFC tweeted about Boyhood , which is playing at the IFC Center in New York, as well
as five other locations:
Though the MPAA has rated BOYHOOD R, we feel the film is appropriate for mature adolescents & will be admitting teenagers at our discretion. --- IFC Center (@IFCCenter) July 11, 2014
The indie film from director Richard Linklater follows a young boy named Mason, who makes it through a rocky childhood with an alcoholic father (Ethan Hawke) and, eventually, a single mother (Patricia Arquette) as he attempts to define
his identity over the course of twelve years. Boyhood carries an R-rating attached to crude language, including sexual references, and teen drug and alcohol usage. There are several implications of spousal abuse as well as domestic unrest, which are no
doubt intense for the viewer. Which is sort of the point: it's almost as if the MPAA is penalizing Linklater's movie for being honest.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 2013 USA comedy fantasy adventure by Ben Stiller. With Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott.
A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of
fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have
The BBFC advised cuts for a PG rated cinema release in 2013. Now movie-censorship.com is reporting that this version cut on advice of the
BBFC has now been released in Germany and the US (and probably worldwide)
UK: Passed PG for infrequent moderate violence, mild language and sex references after BBFC advised cuts for category for:
This work was originally seen for advice. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a 12A rating but that their preferred PG rating could be achieved by making limited changes,
to remove sight of naked female pin-up pictures and
to reduce violent threat in a fight scene.
When an edited version of the film was submitted for formal classification, these scenes had been addressed and the film was consequently rated PG.
Kevin Costner has persuaded the CARA appeals board to down rate his upcoming drama Black and White f rom R to PG-13.
The film is now rated PG-13 for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight,
the MPAA's Classification and Rating Administration announced.
Written and directed by Mike Binder, the independent film stars Costner as a widowed grandfather who becomes embroiled in a custody battle over his biracial granddaughter, whom he
has raised since birth, when the girl's paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) surfaces. Costner is also producing the film.
Tracers is a 2014 USA action film by Daniel Benmayor. Starring Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos and Rafi Gavron.
Wanted by the mafia, a new York City bike messenger
escapes into the world of parkour after meeting a beautiful stranger.
The film was originally rated R for some violence by the MPAA in May 2014.
The producers wanted a PG-13 and appealed the MPAA decision. The appeal was
successful and the CARA appeals board re-rated the film PG-13 for some intense violence, perilous action, sexual content and language.
CARA chairman Joan Graves represented the ratings board while Tracers' post production producer Nancy
Kirhoffer and stunt coordinator/second unit director Gary Powell represented the appellant.
Film Rating Advisors Inc (FRA) is a consulting company backed by former MPAA raters, that has just launched this month to work with filmmakers to get the MPAA ratings they desire.
FRA co-founders Howard Fridkin and Barry Freeman offer their
combined 23 years of MPAA experience, which includes the rating of more than 15,000 films. By viewing a film prior to its MPAA screening, FRA is able to assess any potential ratings issues in detail, then work closely with the filmmaker to trim the
scenes to prevent more substantial edits that might occur from an unexpected rating. Fridkin said:
Often, filmmakers are completely surprised by the MPAA and their opinion on what constitutes suitable material for a
particular age group. The need to reshoot can be cost prohibitive, while these suggested edits can detract from the director's vision. However, Barry and I, having been longtime raters, are able to catch these 'issues' early on. We can prevent the need
for heavy-handed editing as a result of what the filmmaker perceives as a mis-rated film.
The Raid 2 is a 2014 Indonesia action crime thriller by Gareth Evans. Starring Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Yayan Ruhian.
US: Uncut and MPAA R rated for:
2014 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment RA Blu-ray at US Amazon released on 8th July 2014
2014 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment R1 DVD at US Amazon released on 8th July 2014
US Censorship History
The home video release is the cut R rated version.
The film is being released uncut outside of the US.
immediately after the events of THE RAID, Rama (Iko Uwais) is forced to reinvent himself as an undercover cop in order to provide protection for his wife and child. Working for the anti-corruption taskforce led by the one person he can trust, Bunawar, he
is given a mission to engage himself as an enforcer for a local mob boss, Bangun. Finding a way in through Bangun's son Uco, Rama must hunt for information linking Bangun with police force corruption. All the while, he harbors a dangerous and personal
vendetta for revenge and justice that threatens to consume him - and bring both this mission and the organized crime syndicates crashing down.
The Raid 2 is a 2014 Indonesia action crime thriller by Gareth Evans. With Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Yayan Ruhian.
interview with Hypable, director Gareth Evens has provided a few more details about what was cut for an MPAA R rating:
Hypable : After seeing this finished version of the film and the previous unrated cut at
Sundance, I barely noticed any changes. How were you able to get through the MPAA ratings board with so few changes?
Gareth Evans: We were very lucky because the changes were minimal. We did make some changes but they're so
subtle like cutting a couple of frames here and there. Also, there were some issues with Hammer Girl where she impacts to the flesh. Impacts to the flesh are okay but impacts to the flesh and dragging the body are not. I trimmed here and there and
thankfully you didn't notice, which is great for me.
The Other Woman is a 2014 USA comedy by Nick Cassavetes. Starring Cameron Diaz, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Kate Upton.
Cameron Diaz, represented her upcoming movie The Other Woman successfully appealed the MPAA's
Classification and Rating Appeals Board to overturn its initial R rating for some sexual references.
The film is now rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language.
As a comparison the film was passed 12A uncut in the UK for
infrequent strong language, moderate sex references.
While speaking to a group of reporters on the red carpet about The Other Woman, Diaz said:
It's really unfortunate that [members of the ratings board] see
things that women do a little bit more strict -- they judge us a little bit more than they do men. A lot of the things that they're judging -- like we say, 'You need to close your vagina.' Like, you can't say 'vagina' ... What's wrong with a vagina? Guys
make reference to their parts all the times nowadays without getting the R rating.
The steamy Danish drama Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 hits US multiplexes in limited release Friday.
Distributor Magnolia submitted the sexually-graphic Nymphomaniac to the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board earlier this year, and
unsurprisingly it came back with an NC-17. Instead of submitting to the MPAA's edit suggestions for an R rating, Magnolia decided to release the film unrated. Magnolia's sr. vice-president of marketing and publicity Matt Cowal told TheWrap:
It's not a huge distinction. But we went this route rather than accept the restrictions on promotions and marketing materials that an NC-17 would require.
In the last five years, more than 1,000 movies
have been released without a rating, while only three have gone out with an NC-17. The most recent prior to Blue is the Warmest Color was William Friedkin's Killer Joe , which grossed almost $2 million in 2012; the top-grossing was
Steve McQueen's Shame , which grossed $3.9 million in 2011.
So while many exhibitors shy away from unrated fare, Magnolia will turn to independents and smaller chains for screens when it expands over the next few weeks.
critics have been impressed but at this point no one expects Nymphomaniac to run up major grosses.
Troma's War is a 1998 US action adventure by Michael Herz & Lloyd Kaufman.
With Carolyn Beauchamp, Sean Bowen and Rick Washburn.
massively cut in the US to achieve an R rated theatrical release. This version was released on VHS in the UK without further cuts. However the BBFC cut the Director's Cut for 1992 cinema release. The Director's Cut is available uncut on US DVD.
Kaufman was not impressed with the massive MPAA cuts. He explains:
Troma's War is a very underrated movie, and it got totally fucked by the MPAA . Richard Heffner , who just made a noise like a frog and was president of
the MPAA, told Michael Herz over the phone that our movie stunk. The MPAA is not supposed to do that, and they disemboweled our movie. They took out punches and jokes and things that were perfectly acceptable in movies like Die Hard . I think Heffner's
words were "No fuckin good, or something. It was very unpleasant.
Our violence is, as you know, cartoon violence. That movie followed The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke 'Em High , so we had built up some steam. But the only
way we could get into movie theaters in 1986 was with an R rating. And the film was cut down to something like a G-rated movie. I'm very bitter about it; I hope Dr. Heffner burns in hell, quite frankly. And I don't like to speak ill of the dead, but the
nerve, the arrogance, the hubris of his comments!
When director Paul Verhoeven submitted his cut to the MPAA for certification, they weren't at all ready to pass it with the R rating he and Orion Pictures wanted. Scenes such as the melting of Paul McCrane's character, Emil, in a vat of toxic
waste, and the gunning down of an OCP board member by the ED-209 enforcement droid, required pruning to push it down from an X.
Verhoeven resubmitted it repeatedly with fragments shorn off here and there -- somewhere between 12
and 17 times -- until it was finally passed as R. He maintains that the cuts actually rendered the film's violence more disturbing than the over-the-top kind in his original edit, which was restored in its gruesome entirety for an unrated home
Draft Day is a 2014 USA sport drama by Ivan Reitman. With Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner and Tom Welling.
Draft Day , the upcoming football flick directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Coster, was
initially given an R rating for brief strong language by the MPAA, but rather than trimming the film or accepting the R, Reitman and Lionsgate successfully appealed the rating.
The film, about a general manager (Costner) who trades for the
No. 1 pick and has the onerous task of saving football in his city, now bears a PG-13 rating for brief strong language and sexual references.
Lionsgate and the MPAA declined to provide details on the appeal. Draft Day will open April 11.