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Hollywood in the hole; R-rated films to blame?

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 4:56 p.m. MDT

From left, Bradley Cooper as Phil, Ed Helms as Stu and Justin Bartha as Doug in From left, Bradley Cooper as Phil, Ed Helms as Stu and Justin Bartha as Doug in "The Hangover Part III." (Warner Bros.)

Hollywood made more R-rated films than any other rating last year. And they're paying for it — literally.

As detailed in a recent USA Today article, most R-rated films gross less revenue at the box office than competing G, PG or PG-13 films. While there are exceptions to the rules, such as off-color comedy sensation "Ted," most R-rated films fail to rake in significant cash.

USA Today reported on a recent study done by the National Association of Theatre Owners that gave the total grossing of films last year.

In 2012, a total of 177 films in Hollywood received an R-rating. As a whole, these films grossed nearly $3 billion, averaging $16.8 million per film.

Comparatively, PG-13 movies averaged $47.3 million per film. Last year, Hollywood produced 119 movies with a PG-13 rating, bringing in approximately $5.6 billion.

Oliver Cooper as Costa, Thomas Mann as Thomas and Jonathan Daniel Brown as JB in the R-rated comedy Oliver Cooper as Costa, Thomas Mann as Thomas and Jonathan Daniel Brown as JB in the R-rated comedy "Project X." (Beth Dubber, Beth Dubber)

"The NATO study found that every other rating (aside from NC-17) brought in more dollars per movie: The 49 PG films in 2012 generated $2.1 billion, or $43 million per film; and eight G-rated movies brought in $184 million, or $23 million per movie," the article reads.

Additional findings from the NATO study show that the first quarter of this year saw 13 R-rated films released compared to nine R-rated films released the year before.

Eight PG-13 films were released in the first quarter of this year, with 11 released the same time last year. Only one PG film was released the first quarter of this year and no G movies were released, compared with 2012's first-quarter releases of four and two, respectively.

Eric (Richard Dutcher) gets caught in the crossfire of L.A. gang violence in the R-rated Eric (Richard Dutcher) gets caught in the crossfire of L.A. gang violence in the R-rated "Falling." (Main Street Movie Company)

"Observers say the industry's reliance on R-rated films put the box office in a hole this year that it has yet to escape," the article reads.

But this isn't a new trend.

The Deseret News previously reported on the lack of PG films within the industry, despite their economic benefits. In fact, in past years, PG and G movies made slightly less than $10 million more than PG-13 and R-rated films.

So why the disparity? The USA Today article points out that R-rated movies usually cost less to produce. It also addresses "pushing the artistic envelope, which requires a less-restrictive rating."

"I'm sure there are many filmmakers who see having an R-rating as a symbol that their story is not being censored," Aaron Fink, producer of PBS' "Just Seen It," is quoted as saying in the article. "There's a lot that today's PG-13 movies can get away with, but filmmakers may feel (an R rating) lets them tell their story more realistically and with more personality."

Ashton Kutcher, left, and Natalie Portman in the R-rated Ashton Kutcher, left, and Natalie Portman in the R-rated "No Strings Attached." (Associated Press)

Additionally, NATO released a report of 2012 Theatrical Market Statistics. The study reported that of the top 25 2012-released films, 13 held a PG-13 rating. The No. 1 slot was held by "Marvel's The Avenger's."

However, last year's top 25 list included six R-rated films, more than any other year since 2000. There were also six PG films, including "Wreck it Ralph," "Brave" and "Hotel Transylvannia."

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: @emmiliebuchanan

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