Movie Ratings

The Motion Picture Association of America's film-rating system is used in the U.S. and its territories to rate a film's thematic and content suitability for certain audiences. The MPAA rating scheme applies only to films submitted for rating. The MPAA rating system is a voluntary scheme not enforced by law; and films can be exhibited without a rating, though many theaters refuse to exhibit non-rated or X-rated films. Non-members of MPAA may also submit films for rating. Other media (such as television programs and video games) may be rated by other entities. The MPAA rating system is one of various motion picture rating systems used to help parents decide what movies are appropriate for their children. (Source:

G General Audiences

All ages admitted. Signifies that the film rated contains nothing most parents will consider offensive for even their youngest children to see or hear. Nudity, sex scenes, and scenes of drug use are absent; violence is minimal; snippets of dialogue may go beyond polite conversation but do not go beyond common everyday expressions

PG Parental Guidance Suggested

Some material may not be suitable for children. Signifies that the film rated may contain some material parents might not like to expose to their young children - material that will clearly need to be examined or inquired about before children are allowed to attend the film. Explicit sex scenes and scenes of drug use are absent; nudity, if present, is seen only briefly, horror and violence do not exceed moderate levels.

PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned

Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Signifies that the film rated may be inappropriate for pre-teens. Parents should be especially careful about letting their younger children attend. Rough or persistent violence is absent; sexually-oriented-nudity is generally absent; some scenes of drug use may be seen; some use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words may be heard.

R Restricted

Under 17 required accompanying parent or adult guardian (age varies in some jurisdictions). Signifies that the rating board has concluded that the film rated may contain some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their children to see it. An R may be assigned due to, among other things, a film's use of language, theme, violence, sex or its portrayal of drug use.

NC-17 No One 17 And Under Admitted

Signifies that the rating board believes that most American parents would feel that the film is patently adult and that children age 17 and under should not be admitted to it. The film may contain explicit sex scenes, an accumulation of sexually-oriented language, and/or scenes of excessive violence. The NC-17 designation does not, however, signify that the rated film is obscene or pornographic in terms of sex, language or violence.

Ratings FAQs

What is the purpose of the rating system?
The movie rating system is a voluntary system sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners to provide parents with advance information on films, enabling the parent to make judgments on movies they want or don't want their children to see.

Do the ratings indicate if a movie is good or bad?
No, the system is not designed to serve the function of "critic." The ratings do not determine or reflect whether a film is "good" or "bad." The system is not intended to approve, disapprove or censor any film; it merely assigns a rating for guidance -- leaving the decision-making responsibilities to the parents.

Who gives movies their ratings?
Parents give the movies their ratings - men and women just like you. They are part of a specially designed committee called the film rating board of Classification and Rating Administration. As a group they view each film, and, after a group discussion, vote on its rating, making an educated estimate as to which rating most American parents will consider the most appropriate.

What criteria do they use?
The rating board uses the criteria you as a parent use when deciding what is suitable viewing for your child. Theme, language, violence, nudity, sex and drug use and smoking are among those content areas considered in the decision-making process. Also assessed is how each of these elements is employed in the context of each individual film. The rating board places no special emphasis on any of these elements; all are considered and examined before a rating is given.

Is the rating system a law?
No, the rating system is strictly voluntary and carries no force of law.

Can a rating be changed?
Yes, the rules permit movie producers to re-edit their films and re-submit them in hopes of receiving another rating. Producers may also appeal a rating decision to the Rating Appeals Board, which is composed of men and women from the industry organizations that sponsor the rating system. A two-thirds secret ballot vote of those present on the Appeals Board may overturn a rating board decision.

Do all movies have to be rated?
No. Submitting a film is purely a voluntary decision made by the filmmakers. However, the overwhelming majority of producers creating entertaining, responsible films submit them for ratings. All five Classification and Rating Administration rating symbols have been trademarked and may not be self-applied.

Who enforces the ratings?
While the decision to enforce the rating system is purely voluntary, the overwhelming majority of theaters follow the Classification and Rating Administration's guidelines and diligently enforce its provisions.

How do you get more information about a rating?
For additional information about the voluntary movie rating system and ratings for new releases, visit the Motion Picture Association of America's home page on the World Wide Web. The address is Or, in select cities, you may use the interactive phone guide, MovieFone.

What else can parents do?
Parents are urged to learn as much about a film as possible before they permit their children to attend. Reading reviews and feature articles or speaking with your theater manager and friends are good ways to gather information in addition to the ratings.

I'm not 17 yet and want to attend an R-rated movie. Can my parent call the theatre or send a note?
No, we have no way of knowing who wrote the note or is calling. We ask that the parent come to the theatre to purchase the ticket for their child under 17 if they want to let them see it.

Do older brothers and sisters or friends over 18 qualify as an "adult guardian" for an R-rated movie?
No. An "adult guardian" means that the person is legally responsible for the child. While teachers, camp counsellors and group leaders may qualify, older friends do not.

Do the parents have to attend or sit with an underage child at an R-rated movie?
No. We only require that the parent purchase the ticket for their child at the boxoffice. They do not have to attend the movie or sit with their child.

We are interested in your views. Please let us know if you have any questions with regard to how the rating system is being implemented.

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