The current success of Wall Street starring Michael Douglas continues the stalwart status of Hollywood’s most lucrative MPAA rating, PG-13. What constitutes a good movie is subjective, but objectively, it behooves film producers to pay heed to the level of raunch in their productions. Moviegoers far and away prefer the middle of the road when it comes to plunking down $7.95 (the current average ticket price) for two hours of entertainment.
Excluding non-rated movies, PG-13 sits right in the middle of MPAA’s (Motion Picture Association of America) rating system. G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 constitute the five tier rating system. PG-13 is the clear winner, consistently bringing in 47% - 51% of the total box office receipts from 2002-2009.
Studios and producers have clearly gotten the message. Only 8 major productions since 2002 have earned a NC-17 rating (no one under 17 admitted). NC-17 replaced the ominous “X” rating in 1990 which had become inextricably associated with pornography flicks and was seen as an attempt at censorship.
To date, 2010 is actually trending in the opposite direction toward the more innocent end of the spectrum. Although PG-13 is at 43% of gross receipts for 2010 year to date, the four G rated movies are up 189%, helped mightily by the success of Toy Story. PG movies are up 2% this year over last and R rated movies are down 13% compared to 2009. No NC-17 movies have been listed as major Hollywood productions since 2007.