Is the G rating dying out in movie theaters?

By Jeffrey Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 4:59 p.m. MDT

A 2003 study conducted by The Dove Foundation — an organization dedicated to promoting family-oriented entertainment — showed that between 1988 and 2003, Hollywood produced roughly 12 times as many R-rated films as G-rated ones. However, G-rated movies were about 11 times more profitable, earning, on average, $79 million versus their R-rated counterparts’ meager $7 million.

A huge part of that profit came from video/DVD rentals and sales, but even at the box office, G-rated movies earned an average of $43 million compared to $20 million for R-rated movies.

More recently, the box office analysis website The Numbers (the-numbers.com) provided similar results, showing that G-rated movies out-earn R-rated movies by between three to five times during their theatrical runs.

So why is the G rating dying out in theaters?

The ever-expanding home video market is definitely a major factor, especially as video-on-demand and streaming services like Netflix have become more widespread.

What’s more, as the cost of producing movies continues to climb in Hollywood, studios known for their family-friendly entertainment are forced to try to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, drawing in older kids with whatever it takes, including, often, crude humor and violent action sequences.

But in a lot of ways, there really isn’t a good explanation for why G-rated movies are in such short supply.

It's no secret that Hollywood has carried on an inexplicable love affair with R-rated movies in spite of the obvious appetite for family-oriented entertainment. This year is no different. In comparison with the 16 G ratings, CARA has already handed out 330 R ratings.

As Ted Baehr, founder and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission (CFTVC), said in an article for LifeSiteNews.com, “Year in and year out, our statistics show that moviegoers prefer family-friendly movies with positive Christian, wholesome, patriotic, conservative and traditional moral values. … They (Hollywood) don’t know how to market to the average American who is a churchgoing Christian who believes in God, country and family.”

The G rating probably won’t ever completely die out, but based on the current trend, it isn’t hard to imagine it disappearing from movie theaters and becoming a rating solely used for straight-to-DVD fare.

And at a time when PG-13 resembles more and more the kinds of movies that used to be called R, truly family-friendly entertainment is more important than ever.

For more information on the MPAA ratings system, check out the CARA website at filmratings.com.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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