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About 408 movies were released at the domestic box office in 2021. While this doesn’t account for originals from streaming platforms like Netflix, it still is a fairly high number.
If you were to go see these films in theaters, you would likely make your decision of what to see in part on movie ratings. If you want something racy, an R-rated movie is a great choice. Parents with kids will instead select something G or PG-rated.
But why are movie ratings the way that they are? Where did they come from? Read on to answer these questions and satisfy your curiosity.
Where Did Movie Ratings Come From?
Prior to 1968, the movie rating system didn’t exist as we know it. There was only something called the “Hays Production Code.” This simply gave the movie professional approval or disapproval of the film with no regard for its content.
However, in 1968, it became clear that more movies containing adult content would be airing. A rating system was developed and initially only consisted of 4 ratings. There are now 5.
Note that sitcoms (like Barney Miller), Netflix shows, Hulu films, and indie movies follow different rating systems than standard movies do.
Movie Ratings in 2022
Currently, the 5 possible ratings for films are:
- G – Appropriate for all ages
- PG – Parental guidance suggested (some material might be inappropriate for small children)
- PG-13 – Parents strongly cautioned (material is largely only inappropriate for children 13+)
- R – Restricted (anyone under 17 requires a parent/guardian/adult over 18 to accompany them)
- NC-17 – Adults 17+ only (no admittance to minors in any circumstances due to graphic content)
This rating system is standardized across the US. All films and theaters must adhere to it. However, there are some unrated films that simply were never submitted for a rating, which may have the same sex, violence, and profanity levels as an R-rated film.
How Are Movies Rated?
Movies are rated based on 5 main criteria: violence, sex, nudity, substances, and language.
Violence is allowed in all rating systems, but it needs to be kept low in G-rated films. It also must not be intense in PG-rated movies- they generally stick to fantasy and cartoon violence.
There are no explicit criteria for sex in films besides not allowing it in G-rated movies.
However, regulations on nudity tend to restrict explicit sex scenes. Brief nudity may be allowed in PG movies, but anything that’s even slightly explicit will bump it up to PG-13. Sexual nudity automatically earns an R rating, which stops sex from happening in lower-rated films.
Drugs and alcohol automatically make the film PG-13. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Any profane language will force a movie into a PG rating, and a single sexually-driven expletive will bring it up to PG 13. This is known as the automatic-language rule. PG-13 films are allowed to drop a single f-bomb before their rating is boosted to an R.
See the Best Movies ASAP
While finding the best movies can be a challenge, the rating system is specially designed to make it easier for individuals and families.
Now that you know the basics of movie ratings and how these ratings are determined, it’s time to learn more about the entertainment industry. Check out the ‘travel and entertainment’ tab on our home page for more information about the films that you love.