R-rated Films: A Risky Business!!

29 Dec

By: Open Book

A number of films this year received an R rating due to graphic content.  Here are ten of the most highly anticipated or critically acclaimed films this year.

1. Black Swan
2. The Kings Speech
3. 127 Hours
4. Blue Valentine
5. Welcome to the Rileys
6. Love & Other Drugs
7. The Town
8. Shutter Island
9. Expendables
10. Due Date


Why did the above films receive an R rating?

According to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) they state,

An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.[1

Is having an R rated film good for business? For 2010, the top 10 blockbuster films were all rated PG-13.  According to the latest Box officemojo.com ranking (which are ranked by top domestic earnings, foreign is not included) it shows on 12/22/2010,

“1.Toy Story-3  2. Alice in Wonderland  3. Iron Man-2  4. Twilight: Eclipse  5. Inception 6. Harry Potter: Deathly Hollows

7. Despicable Me  8. Shrek Forever After 9. How to Train Your Dragon 10. The Karate Kid.” [2]

The idea of producing a film that can’t earn back its production budget is bad for business.  However, to make a film that appeals to adults, young adults and kids is very tough for many filmmakers. David Schwimmer, who directed Trust (a film about a 14 year old girl who is raped by a online predator), was given an R rating recently by the MPAA.

In an article on Deadline.com written by Mike Fleming on 12/17/2010,[3] Schwimmer states, “There is no nudity, no overt sexuality other that what needed to be implied for a scene in the hotel room where we learn that a rape took place,” He is currently trying to appeal for a PG-13 rating the movie opens April 1st. 2011.

In the past indie filmmakers have accused the MPAA of censorship. However, the MPAA don’t require a film be rated for it to be shown in theaters.  It just so happens most theaters in America won’t buy an unrated film.  A film like Due Date, Shutter Island, The Town and others that received an R rating who were not in the top 10-blockbuster film list of 2010; did very well at the box office.  The truth is most films (geared strictly toward an adult audience) typically don’t do well domestically at the box office, unless the film has a reputable cast and director attached to it. An example would be; Expendables with Sylvester Stallone and Due Date with Robert Downey Jr. both films were rated R and did very well at the box office.

Please join us for a discussion on this topic: Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST

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7 Responses to “R-rated Films: A Risky Business!!”

  1. Parisienne December 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM #

    Hello Ladies!

    I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday! Anyhow,my opionion censorship is this…if a films subject is truly going to disturb young viewers or send some negative, hateful message in any way. Then it should receive an R rating. Plus, i think the film should be viewed by adults first then left up to the discretion of the adult whether or not their child should view it.

    In all honesty, in this day and age its not that hard for kids nowadays to view R rated material anyway.

  2. Open Book December 29, 2010 at 11:13 PM #

    Hi Paris,

    I agree with u, kids will and can see R rated and NC-17 material more easily today. I think it’s up to the parents ultimately to teach kids responsibility and consequences not filmmakers.

    With that said, I have a few questions? Do u think an audience needs to see the act of lovemaking to make a story more realistic? Do u think sex and nudity can get in the way of a story? It’s been said the MPAA gives R or NC-17 ratings to films that suggest homosexual or heterosexual lovemaking or nudity in them. Yet, they’ve been known to give more violent films a PG-13 rating. What are your thoughts about this?

    • Kim December 30, 2010 at 8:45 PM #

      Sadly, we have had this problem recently with our youngest son (15). He went to the movies with his brother (18) and his brother’s friends and went to see a R rated movie, we were not happy. We let both boys know before they left no R movies and yet they went and tried to tell us they went to an PG 13 movie. So checking id at the movie theaters doesn’t happen.

      Also, when my youngest son goes to his friend’s house his mother lets them watch R rated movies so my youngest has been subjective to many R rated movies there, which I’m not crazy about and have let him know this.

      I do believe that I would rather my sons see nudity or sex rather than all the violence that is in some of these movies. Just because the violence and gore desensitizes a person to this type of behavior. I remember when I was in my teens I saw a lot of the horror flicks (Halloweens, Friday the 13ths)to the point that it didn’t phase me. As I got older I didn’t see any of these films and now I have a real hard time watching gory and violent films. I tend to turn away because of them.

      Do I think seeing the sex makes a movie more realistic? All depends on the storyline, is it there just to be there or is it there because its part of the plot?

      • Open Book December 31, 2010 at 12:14 AM #


        U made a great point about becoming desensitized to violence. There are studies to show seeing excessive violence does alter a child’s behavior but none showing what impact seeing nudity or sex has on children. IMO: If a film uses sex or nudity, as gimmick’s to sell a film is poor taste and a turn off. I mean at the end of a film, I hope to walk away asking questions about a story because I was moved enough to care to. If the sex and violence is what a film is built on it’s not clever or profound, I like to think people are more complex than that and it’s nice to see that portrayed in films.

        Why do u think America is more liberal showing violence in films? Yet, the film rating system in Britain have a greater tolerance for showing sex and nudity?

        • Open Book December 31, 2010 at 12:29 AM #

          I meant to say, I think people are capable of handling more complex narratives rather than building everything around sex and violence all the time.

        • kneon65 December 31, 2010 at 12:51 AM #

          I can tell you that right off, because in Europe sex and nudity are not hidden away. America was basically developed on the Puritan ways, so obviously in the U.S. we are more prudish when it comes to sex and nudity. In Europe its well more open about sex and nudity.

          In my opinion, I believe that is why the Britain’s film rating system is more open to the sex and nudity.

          America (United States) was also founded by violence, one of our rights is to bear arms. Where Europe owning fire arms or weapons is not allowed or illegal other than for recreation. In my opinion I believe that is why the U.S. film rating system has more tolerance for showing violence in the movies.

          I hope this makes sense.

          • Open Book December 31, 2010 at 10:25 AM #

            Yes, it does makes sense. Thank U!!!

            I saw “Black Swan” recently and it was an excellent film, great performance by Natalie Portman, amazing actually!!! It’s a shame people are giving more attention to the sex scene in that film. When the real horror and tragedy was the characters spiraling decline and violence done to herself. It’s alarming people are more shocked by the sex scene and not by this character mutilating herself.

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