Are There More R Rated Movies Being Made?

Are There More R Rated Movies Being Made?  It sure seems like it.  There are so many commercials and ads for R Rated movies lately.  At first, I thought it was because more people are going to see them.  I mean, who would make movies that weren’t going to make a lot of money.  So I started looking into it.  What I found surprised me.

the “god” of money?

R rated movies

Like I said, I expected the “god of money” would be the driving force in the movie industry.  After all, isn’t the goal to make money?  Big budget films.  Big budget stars.  Lots of union rules requiring lots of people to be employed.  A large amount of money must be made to cover all the costs.

But even beyond that, if given a choice between making one type of movie for a small amount of money, versus another type of movie for a larger amount of money, why would the studios not go for the larger amount of money?  If nothing else, it keeps the shareholders happy.

And then there are weekly and annual top grossing announcements that come out.  Being on top is a good thing.

Everything points studios wanting to make as successful a movie as possible.  So let’s take a look at what’s happening.

Here’s a chart showing the ratings for the top 25 films of each year since 1960, grouped by decade.  A few of the films were never rated by the MPAA, since the rating system wasn’t in place yet.

movie ratings by decade

A few things stand out.

  • The number of G rated movies has certainly dropped since the 1960’s.  More specifically, since the early part of the 60’s, although we must remember that the current system was put in place in 1969 – which certainly has an impact.
  • There was quite a bit of upheaval between the start of the MPAA ratings and the decade of the 80’s.  
  • Over the last 3 decades, there seem to be some clear trends.
    • The number of top movies with a G rating is very low.
    • An increasing number of top movies have a PG rating.
    • The most common rating for movies, by far, is PG-13.
    • The number of top rated R movies is dropping, to the point where there have been none in the top 25 in the past 8 years.

To back up the conclusions, here’s an excerpt from PG-13 vs. R Movies: How Each Rating Stacks Up at the Box Office from The Wrap.

Movies with PG-13 ratings like “The Hunger Games Mockingjay” and “Guardians of the Galaxy were by far the biggest moneymakers for Hollywood last year, but films with PG ratings such as “Maleficent” and “The LEGO Movie” on average delivered more bang for the buck.

That’s according to an informal survey by The Wrap of the relationship between ratings and box office, which also revealed that films rated R delivered about half of what the two aforementioned categories did at the box office. As for the remaining two classifications, just two movies rolled out with a G rating and none with an NC-17 tag were released last year.

But in spite of these numbers, R rated movies are still quite popular with the studios.  This begs the question – why?

A depraved mind?

My first thought was to look at Romans, where Paul write about God’s wrath against mankind.

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Ro 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Ro 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Ro 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Ro 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

While this is certainly relevant today, it doesn’t cover everything we’re looking at here.  There’s more to R rated movies than sex.  In fact, the worst of those submitted to the MPAA would get NC-17 ratings.  So there’s got to be more.

About the ratings

So what is it that gets a movie put into the various ratings options?  Using the referenced article above from The Wrap, here are some things related to movie ratings.

G rated movies in 2014

Only 6 movies were made in 2014 with a G rating.

The G rating is going the way of the dinosaur. But Disney has yet to decide whether Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” will roll out at Thanksgiving with a G or a PG. History says G, since “Brave” and “The Incredibles” are the only PG-rated Pixar films so far. And Disney knows from “Toy Story 3” that a G-rated movie can score big at the box office. It’s possible some teens see G-rated movies as “kids stuff” that they’re way too cool for. And PG does provide some options.

Note:  The Good Dinosaur, a kids movie, did go out with a PG rating.

PG rated movies in 2014

26 movies were made in 2014 with a PG rating.

The go-to classification for studios releasing animated movies today is PG, and last year they accounted for five of the 10 highest-grossing films in that category. “Maleficent,” Disney’s live-action take on Sleeping Beauty starring Angelina Jolie, was a notable exception and the studio scored with the fairy tale musical “Into the Woods” as well.

Well, that says something, although I’m not sure what.  From various sources, the following conclusions have been reached about movie ratings.

Accusation of “ratings creep”

Although there has always been concern about the content of films, the MPAA has, in recent years, been accused of a “ratings creep”, whereby the films that fall into today’s ratings categories now contain more objectionable material than those that appeared in the same categories two decades earlier. A study put forward by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2004 concluded that there had been a significant increase in the level of profanity, sex and violence in films released between 1992 and 2003. Kimberly Thompson, director of the study, stated: “The findings demonstrate that ratings creep has occurred over the last decade and that today’s movies contain significantly more violence, sex, and profanity on average than movies of the same rating a decade ago.”

To be sure, I find it hard to believe that many of the Disney (and other) movies I saw as a kid would get a G today.  There’s enough violence and dark situations to be scary to a kid.  Considering where some of them came from – like Grimm’s fairy tales – that’s not a surprise.  Even the cartoons were violent.  And what about The Three Stooges?  Talk about violence!  But then, somehow we knew those things weren’t supposed to be done in “real Life”.  Maybe more than anything else, that’s what missing in the case of PG movies.

PG-13 rated movies in 2014

This is the rating with the most movies made in 2014, with 66 of them.

With superheroes like the Avengers, the X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy leading a seemingly endless parade of Marvel blockbusters, it’s no surprise PG-13 is the ratings classification showing the biggest returns. What works for the spandex set won’t necessarily do for a serious movie with big-name talent though.

Maybe it’s just me, but superheroes seem to be much darker than when I was a kid.  They were the good guys, and everyone knew it.  Now, it seems like there are dark sides to every superhero.  There are even movies with superheroes pitted against each other.  Maybe some of these should be rated “C” for confusing, instead of PG-13?  No wonder we can’t tell right from wrong and “movie life” from “real life”.

R rated movies in 2014

This is maybe the most surprising category, with 59 movies getting the R rating.  As shown above, quite surprising, given the lack of money they bring in.  And so the question remains – why so many of them?

Raunchy language, violence and gore, rather than sex, is how most of the top films earned their restrictive ratings.

Again – why are there so many R rated movies?

The high number of R rated movies isn’t about money or turnout.  Let’s look at something else.  For that, we stay with Paul, and with Romans, but this time to chapter 3.

No One Is Righteous

Ro 3:9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better ? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;

Ro 3:11 there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.

Ro 3:12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”

Ro 3:13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

Ro 3:14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

Ro 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Ro 3:16 ruin and misery mark their ways,

Ro 3:17 and the way of peace they do not know.”

Ro 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Like it or not, this passage pretty much has it all.  Lies.  Cursing.  Violence.  Ruin and misery.  No peace.

That’s a pretty good description of a whole lot of movies.  Even of the so-called good guys in too many of today’s movies.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it’s a good representation of the minds of those who write, produce, act in, work in, Etc. the movies that fit that description.  Otherwise – why would one work in them, let alone write them in the first place?

And what does that say about those of us who enjoy those same movies?  I wrote something a while back called Is there popcorn on the floor in Heaven?  It’s about all the popcorn we find on the floors of movie theaters.  I can – and am – asking a similar question here.  Will there be movies full of cursing, violence and sex in Heaven?  If you think so – why do you feel that way?  If you don’t think so, but are enjoying them here on earth – do you worry about losing out on Heaven for want of a movie that won’t be there?

Misery loves company 

It’s probably easy to remember the saying about misery loves company.  And it’s probably easy to say that if the people insisting on making R rated movies (and some less than R) want us to like them for the simple reason that they like to make them. 

But is it really that simple?

I think not.

Let’s look to Paul one more time.

Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Oh yeah.  The ruler of the kingdom of the air.  Satan.  Another thing we don’t like to talk about.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t for real.  For more on that, please see If you don’t believe in the devil, then … .

Conclusion

Earlier, we saw the quote from The Wrap – 

Raunchy language, violence and gore, rather than sex, is how most of the top films earned their restrictive ratings.

That may or may not be true.  Either way though, as far as sex goes, we’ve left out an entire industry.  The X rated / porn industry.  And let’s not forget about the worst of the worst, which is probably mostly on the internet these days. 

So while we can try to be proud of ourselves for not getting into pornography / aberrant / other illegal forms of sex movies – we have to remember that even what we try to tell ourselves is nothing may actually be on the road to what we saw in Romans chapter 1.

Ro 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The fact that we read something like “gossips” and think it shouldn’t be included in a list of evil behaviors – there’s a question that must be asked and answered.  Is gossip really nothing?  Or is it that we have reached a point where something that’s important to God means nothing to us?  

I submit – it’s the latter.  And that begs the question of what else on that list also means nothing to us?  Be honest.  because they are all still important to God.

If necessary, would you be willing to give up all your favorite movies because that’s what God wants?  Or would you be like the rich young man?  In other words, to borrow the though from Matthew 19:22, would you go away sad, because you weren’t willing to give up your movies?

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