Further scrutiny came with Newtown. In January, former Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, met with Vice President Joe Biden, and said the industry was "ready to be part of the conversation" on gun violence — while still vehemently opposing content restrictions.
In April, the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners announced a new "Check the Box" campaign meant to supplement the ratings system, which has been criticized as soft on violence, by making reasons for a rating slightly more prominent.
"Our industry has a long history of voluntary engagement on this issue," the MPAA said in a statement for this report, declining an interview request.
Unveiling the "Check the Box" campaign, John Fithian, president of the theater owners group, suggested studios should make fewer R-rated movies: "It's cool to be Quentin Tarantino ... But there's a bit of a disconnect between exhibitors and the studios as to what works."
Just what kind of screen violence is appropriate has been widely debated.
The recent Superman film "Man of Steel" was criticized, for example, for showing the demolition of huge swaths of a city as mere backdrop for a fight. A film like Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," on the other hand, illustrates the generations-long reverberations of a shooting between a police officer and a bank robber.
"I have strong feelings about guns, and how we're using them in this film," Cianfrance said when the film came out. "We're using it not in a fetishized way, not in a cool violence way.
If I have to see another slow-motion bullet come out of a gun and paint brains on the wall ... It's not beautiful to me."
Associated Press writers Derrik Lang in Los Angeles, David Bauder and Jake Coyle in New York, and Lou Kesten in Washington contributed to this report.
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