×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

More Than Half of Movies Have Been Rated R in Past 50 Years, MPAA Study Says

WASHINGTON — The MPAA is marking the 50th anniversary of its film ratings by releasing data on the breakdown of how movies have been rated over the last half century.

The R rating has been placed on far and away the majority of the movies since then, more than half of the almost 30,000 titles that have been given classifications.

The breakdown: Since 1968, the first year of the ratings classifications, there have been 17,202 movies rated R, 5,578 rated M/GP/PG, 4,913 rated PG-13 and 1,574 rated G. Just 524 movies have been rated X or NC-17, reflecting the reluctance of exhibitors to carry those titles.

The MPAA also said that over the years, 1.4% (or 428 titles) of the ratings have been appealed, and 0.6% (or 165 movies) have had their rating overturned. The MPAA’s complete report is here. The organization also released a digital archive of documents, including such things as press releases and letters when it was formed, and copies of the pre-rating Motion Picture Code.

Joan Graves, the chair of the Classification and Rating Administration and MPAA senior vice president, also answers commonly asked questions in a series of videos.

The trade association also released the results of a survey, conducted by Nielsen, of 1,559 parents of children between the ages of 7 and 16. It showed that 59% strongly and 36% somewhat agree that the ratings are helpful tools. There also was substantial agreement that the descriptors for the ratings were helpful tools for parents. The MPAA also reviews advertising content, and said that it has overseen about 68,000 pieces of material over the past year, including 15,835 trailers.

MPAA Chairman Charles Rivkin said in a statement, “Given the extraordinary changes in our culture, entertainment, and society over the last 50 years, this anniversary feels particularly hard-earned and special. We could point to many factors behind the ratings’ success, but the clearest one of all comes directly from our founding mission: to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents.”

The ratings were announced on Nov. 1, 1968 by then-chairman Jack Valenti against threats of government censorship, particularly in local communities. The last state censorship board was disbanded in 1981.

Valenti, who became the head of the MPAA in 1966, was quickly faced with the controversies over “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Blowup.” Graves said that “the fact that he was able to convince all those different parties, the makers of films, the exhibitors of films, and the censors of films, and the church groups to take a chance on this, seems even more remarkable today I think than it was then.”

Before the ratings system was adopted, the industry operated under the Production Code, or Hays Code. The MPAA report goes into great detail about the history of that code, including some of the restrictions that “seem ridiculous today.” Among them: One foot on the floor in love scenes, depiction of childbirth as “painful,” and scenes of toilets. “Psycho,” made in 1960, was the first film to show a flushing toilet, according to the report.

The current ratings have evolved over time. The original ratings were G, M, R and X. In 1984, a “PG-13” rating was established to find a middle ground between PG and R, after controversy over some of the violence depicted in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The MPAA said that the introduction of the PG-13 rating has reduced the number of studio and filmmaker appeals of their rating classifications.

The X rating originally went to mainstream movies, including “Midnight Cowboy,” released in 1969 and the only best picture winner to be rated X. The adult film industry began using the descriptor, though, and most studios and exhibitors steered clear of earning the classification. The MPAA replaced the rating with NC-17 in 1990, but that too has been met with reluctance on the part of exhibitors.

More Politics

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders Jemele Hill

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Leave the White House

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her position at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday. In two tweets, Trump announced Sanders’ departure for her home state of Arkansas before thanking her for “a job well done.” He also recommended her for the Arkansas governor position, writing, “She is [...]

  • Kellyanne Conway

    Federal Watchdog Says Kellyanne Conway Should Step Down

    A federal watchdog has recommended that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be fired for repeated violations of the Hatch Act. In a report on Thursday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Conway had used TV appearances and social media platforms to disparage Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity. “Ms. [...]

  • Jessica Biel Clarifies Anti-Vaccine Stance

    Jessica Biel: 'I Am Not Against Vaccinations'

    Jessica Biel clarified her stance on vaccinations after public outcry over news that the actress joined Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lobby against a California state pro-vaccine bill. “I am not against vaccinations,” Biel wrote on Instagram Thursday morning. “I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated [...]

  • 'The Sinner' film premiere

    Jessica Biel Joins Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Lobby Against California Vaccine Bill

    Jessica Biel joined the controversial anti-vaccination advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lobby against a California state pro-vaccine bill on Tuesday, revealed in several social media posts. “Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House,” Kennedy posted on Tuesday with a series of pictures [...]

  • Hope Hicks Resigns

    Hope Hicks to Give Closed-Door Testimony to Judiciary Committee

    Hope Hicks, the chief communications officer at Fox, has agreed to answer questions before the House Judiciary Committee next week. The hearing will be held behind closed doors, but the committee will make a transcript available afterward. The committee is continuing to follow up on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Hicks is set [...]

  • Michael Wolff Fire and Fury

    5 Takeaways From Michael Wolff's 'Siege: Trump Under Fire'

    Michael Wolff’s “Siege: Trump Under Fire” looks at the 45th president’s second year in office, detailing everything from a potential indictment to Melania Trump’s mysterious hospitalization. It’s the follow-up to Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” and though this installment likely won’t reach the commercial heights of its predecessor, it’s certainly not lacking in titillating reveals. Several [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Says His Meghan Markle ‘Nasty’ Comment Was Taken Out of Context

    After first denying he made the comment, President Trump now says his remark describing Meghan Markle as “nasty” was taken out of context, telling Piers Morgan instead that he thinks the Duchess of Sussex is actually “very nice.” Trump called Markle “nasty” in an interview with British tabloid The Sun ahead of his three-day state [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content