HOLLYWOOD/THE MPAA and MOVIEGOERS: The buck MUST stop here!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Matthew Prince, Aug 1, 2004.

  1. Matthew Prince

    Matthew Prince Stunt Coordinator

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    I know I've only made a few posts but I'm mad. MAD! I tell ya.

    You know what done it? Finding out that the new Alien V Predator movie was a PG-13. A f****n' PG-13! Check here if you don't believe me. [​IMG]

    I just thought what the hell is going in Hollywood today? A film that could be a possible franchise based on dark, scary and gory movies has been turned into a desperately teenage friendly movie, designed to catch as many 13 and 14 year old as possible! The people at FOX should be ashamed of themselves!

    The same thing happened with King Arthur. The script was written by David Franzoni, who wrote Ridley Scott's Gladiator, which practically revived the swords 'n' sandals epics and I'm sure the film was shot to be more graphic than it was.

    Even in an interview, Jerry Bruckheimer promised not to hold back on the gore and sexuality... but lo and behold, the movie is a PG-13 with rumours ALREADY going around that Antoine Fuqua was hinting at doing an R-Rated Director's Cut on DVD. Makes you sick doesn't it?

    Every year, but particularly in the Summer it happens, movies that are obviously meant for adults, that deal with sex, violence or strong language are heavily edited for the "kids" or "target demographic".

    Damn, what happened to the producers' and directors' vision, where a film was just made, submitted for a rating and whatever it got that was it and it got released! Films with heavy sex, violence and strong language (and those "themes") were R and films without that were PG/PG-13!

    Sometimes I look back to the '70s and '80s and think at least we had execs and producers with balls back then!

    We had Die Hard, Predator, Commando, Rambo, Lethal Weapon, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, Wild Bunch, The Shining, A Nightmare On Elm Street, etc... yes, those films may have been of varying quality, but at least the filmmakers believed in giving ADULTS at good night out!

    That's why sometimes I thank God I live in England, because we have the BBFC. The British rating board is SO MUCH better than the MPAA it's unreal!

    A quick history though. In the late '70s and '80s, a guy called James Ferman was in charge of the BBFC, much like your Jack Valenti, unfortunately, he was very conservative and observed the 'video nasty' craze at the time (cheap and nasty exploitation flicks made quickly and released straight to video, before ratings existed) and blocked a lot of movies from coming out. Controversial movies were heavily cut and others were simply banned. Unusually, he was in charge for 15+ years which is longer than a Director is supposed to be...

    After he left in the late 1990s - IMPORTANT - a guy called Andreas Whittam Smith took over and was far more liberal (now Robin Duval is the new Director and he is similar to Mr Smith). Under his reign, many banned and heavily cut movies were re-submitted and PASSED! Among others, The Exorcist, Evil Dead 1 AND 2 were released again alongside the so called 'video nasties' which were let through with only 'minor cuts' than before and all new genre & boundary breaking movies were passed UNCUT like IRREVERSIBLE...

    As well as the above the British ratings were relaxed and the 12 and 12A (similar to the PG-13) categories were introduced. They were primarily used for comic-book movies & summer blockbusters so producers & directors could push slightly harder with the action and set pieces for Spider-Man, X-Men, The Hulk, etc...

    The MAIN reason why I love the British rating system (and just not because I live here [​IMG]) is that it follows common sense:

    Our U is equal to your 'G'

    Our PG is equal to your 'PG'

    Our 12 is debatable: over 90% of the time it matches your 'PG-13'... BUT YOUR 'PG-13's can sometimes be slightly too violent and become a...

    (Our) 15, which is where you should pay attention. A 15 would match your 'R' because it would most likely have plenty of strong language (f-words, s-words, a LIMITED amount of m-fs and very FEW c-words). 15's are mostly applied to general action movies (The Rock) and thrillers (Spartan, Patriot Games), sex comedies (American Pie movies), martial arts (Mortal Kombat, Romeo Must Die) and strangely enough 'ghetto' movies (Friday). Then there is the 'final' rating...

    Our 18, which ALSO matches your 'R'. In James Ferman's days most 18's were cut, but nowadays they are rarely. '18's in the UK are always more graphic adult movies, with more sex, nudity, violence or swearing (your typical '80s movie night out! [​IMG] ) They range from Blade 2 to Battle Royale to Pulp Fiction to Basic Instinct to Sexy Beast to Freddy V Jason to Goodfellas, etc...

    Now here is a main point to American moviefans and Hollywood: THERE IS NO SHAME IN AN ADULT ('18') RATING! If a film is given an 18, then so be it! In England, 18-year-olds and above go to the movie theatre/cinema and just watch it! The film doesn't suffer from a stigma around an 'adult' rating, that's just the audience it's intended for! The Hollywood producers AND execs need to get a grip on this 'NC-17' nonsense!

    "Oh, our movie got an NC-17, that means we can't get the teenage audience we want!" Boo-hoo! (Teenagers make up to the majority of the moviegoing 'demographic - any movie they go (or their parents take them) to = $$$$$!)

    Even around Europe people respect and understand their country's movie ratings systems and it's no suprise that producers normally release 'International Extended/Uncut' versions over here...

    And because of all this and the advent of DVD, it means that (studios want?) producers and/or directors frequently choose to submit and release a PG-13 OR light 'R' rated movie at the movie theatre/cinema and then IN ADVANCE announce that they will release a 'hard R' or 'Unrated' version on DVD. Is that spineless, or what? Unsurprisingly, the extra versions always have only small changes to the movie...

    I wonder how many more movies will be released on DVD this year and next as 'Director's Cuts', 'Unrated' or 'The Parts You Could Never See!' (sound familiar?)...

    Until the Hollywood big heads come clean, the MPAA applies some common sense and the Studios, Producers & Directors stop being so cowardly, WE should all view ANY big-budget/big-star movie with sceptism...

    End of rant... [​IMG]
     
  2. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    What you should do is to stop seeing the junk Hollywood puts out - their major motivation is money. Deny them money and you *might* change their attitudes. Not likely, but at least you'll feel better about not supporting their dim-witted films.
     
  3. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Eh. I actually kind of like the trend.. and their box office tends to show it to.. the big blockbusters have all been PG/G lately.. Nemo, Shrek2, SpiderMan, X-Men.. what the movie audience pays for is what they get. As long as their are major blockbusters that are PG/PG-13, and R rated movies don't become blockbusters, you'll see more PG-13 flicks.

    I've never really found that it hurt the work, either.. good films can be done at PG-13; I didn't find the need for any graphic sex or bloody violence in XMen, SpiderMan, or ever Bourne Supremacy. All were good as they were.

    Some films do need it (Pulp Fiction) and we have an audience for that as well. But it's no joke, studios will put out more PG/PG-13 films in an effort to get a bigger audience. Can't really blame them... the buck isn't stopping here, it's still going straight to the studio for flicks I like, no matter what the rating [​IMG]
     
  4. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    It is a shame. Why even make any movies R rated anymore?
     
  5. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    Wow, who knew that slime would bump a film's rating to PG-13? [​IMG]
     
  6. Magnus T

    Magnus T Supporting Actor

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    I hate the trend too. I remember a time when R - rated action films were a dime a dozen. I miss those times. Alien VS Predator is an excellent example of a studio not having the balls to release a film based on a franchise that is OBVIOUSLY for adults.

    The studios are always underestimating the audience. They think they make more money by dumbing down films and making the more accessible, when, in fact the opposite is true (anyone remember the first Matrix?). Donnie Darko is good example of a film that was never given a chance by the studio during it's theatrical run, but has since become the biggest cult movie in the last 10 - 15 years. So big in fact that it was re - released 3 years later in theaters.

    The biggest problem is that the Hollywood machine have all become cowards. They refuse to take a chance... on anything! And we're now seeing the results. Tons of movies over the last couple of years that has had huge budgets have failed miserably.

    Regardless of what Hollywood thinks, AUDIENCES WANT TO BE CHALLANGED!
     
  7. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    I'm not sure where we get "mentally challenged" = "R" rating.

    Some of the greatest films of all time have not been "R", and some of the films that have truly been "intelligent" and "well thought out" were not "R". It's based far more on the script then gore, etc.

    2001 was a great film; etc. Pulp Fiction was also a great film [​IMG]

    I think there is something amiss with equivocating "R" to having any meaning other then "R" or giving it more weight then a "PG-13" by immediately dismissing a film. Some of the greatest action films of all time were not "R". Indiana Jones was not "R", Star Wars was not "R", Lord of the Rings was not "R".

    Studios are like anything else, they are profit machines. Donnie Darko never got a chance for multiple reasons, but in comparison, even through second runs, it's not a breakout blockbuster. It is a great cult film, in the same sense that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is.

    Look, I'll admit, I've been very on the other side, I find a lot of trouble with the fact that Hollywood is releasing fewer and fewer "G" rated films. Even many animated films have to make jabs, etc. that I don't necessarily want to take my kids to and end up "PG".

    Studios have the same responsibility as any other company.. to their bottom line. And the bottom line tells them that if you want to crack a couple hundred million, it's not "R".. but the market is still there.. see Kill Bill Vol.2.

    The goal is to tell the story as you want to tell it. Hollywood still releases plenty of "R" films. But you're right, the films that sell tickets aren't those, and so the studios have adjusted. Blame the moviegower as much as Hollywood.

    As to "Challenged" there are plenty of truly challenging films out there this year, one of the best being "The Story of the Weeping Camel" which I believe is PG, and another "Super Size Me" which unrated would still likely be PG.
     
  8. Magnus T

    Magnus T Supporting Actor

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    Chris, I agree completely. There has indeed been MANY great G and PG rated films. My point is that the studios as of late are not just lowering the rating of films, they are also lowering the intelligence of the film, you know, lowest common denominator and so forth.

    By the way, Super Size Me is an independent film, we're talking big studio films here.
     
  9. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Huh? [​IMG]

    --
    H
     
  10. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Under the British system, many movies are cut relative to the US versions. I don't see how it's any better.

    It may be worth mentioning tht out of the all-time top 20 movies on IMDB, 9 are rated R, 7 are PG, 3 are PG-13 and 1 has no US rating. Many of the PGs would probably be PG-13s were they rated today.

    So overall, Rs seem to dominate the top of the list.
     
  11. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I understand the gist of your post, but I have to debate this point. Film history rather clearly shows that this is not true.

    Maybe from 1930-34 studios were sort of just putting out what they wanted before the Hays Code really started to get enforced and films had to be cut, but even still the studios were making harder films to appeal to a mass audience in a different way. Just like people love Springer now, people loved gangster films during the depression and prohibition, so the studios gave it to them.

    The reason studios cut for the rating now is simply to keep putting in content that will get them the largest audience. That's how its always been. Filmmaking is both art and business at the same time and no filmmaker is able to work outside the business side of it, despite any illusions of the existence of the pure avant-garde art filmmaker.


    Maybe the rating system has swung to a point where kids are being protected from material that many parents really won't mind, but that is partially up to audiences to decide. After all, parents can still get kids into films outside of NC-17s.

    Maybe the bigger problem is that many films either cut back to just inside the boundry or go hell-bent past it. A film like Airplane made today would either have a shitload of language and nudity or none at all. Parents might take kids to a film that just goes over the PG-13 range into a light R, but then filmmakers seem to figure that if they have to get the R then they might as well earn it and they use that hard angle. At least it seems to fall that way much of the time.

    Those films you are lamenting about being missing now are the ones being marganilized by such thinking. But ratings don't totally create that problem. A lot of it has to do with how both sides react to ratings.
     
  12. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    I'd like to mention that in X2 when wolverine is attacking the guys in the mansion the editing is very quick. You can tell they clip away from the part where he actually strikes the soldiers. Had it been R we might have actually seen him hit them, instead of quick flashy editing and a scream.
     
  13. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    People seem to be forgetting to the government's scrutiny of Hollywood's marketing of R-rated films in the aftermath of Columbine. Theaters started cracking down a whole lot more on R-rated sales to those under 17.

    For films like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line and Paramount knew damn well that their target market- high school kids- would be able to get in whether they were 17 or not. That's not necessarily the case any more. There's still a market for gore, as the TCM remake, Dawn of the Dead, and Freddy vs Jason proved, but the most successful horror films of recent years, The Ring, Signs, Sixth Sense, have been PG-13. That sends a very clear message to the studio- if you're looking for megabucks then you need to be PG-13. We still have hard R-rated horror movies because they tend to cost less so a $100 million gross isn't required.

    Expensive genres like sci-fi, action, and historical epics are a whole different ballgame. The budgets are so high the studios don't feel like they can risk the potential box office hit the film will take with an R-rating.

    It has nothing to do with having the balls to release them or anything of the sort. AvP isn't being released to challenge audiences, make an artistic statement, enrich the Alien and Predator mythos or anything of the sort. Its being released to make money for Fox. Fox thinks they can make more money with a PG-13 than an R and they are probably right. The gamble they take is whether more people will turn away due to a lack of gore exceeds those able to see the movie due to a lower rating. I think they made a good gamble.
     
  14. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    I thought the movie was aimed at the teenage market, based on the success of the video games. That's where the money is, frankly. And this movie is all about the money. I loved the Aliens films and enjoyed Predator, but have zero interest in this film, hence my lack of surprise at the PG-13 rating.
     
  15. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The MPAA rating system really ought to be updated...

    But I think AvsP is PG-13 only because they realize that it's the only way to get more people into theaters. It's going to be such a idiotic movie (like the other stinkburger "vs" Freddy Vs. Jason) and it shouldn't be much of a care.
     
  16. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    And that would be better why? More gore does not necessarily make a film better.
     
  17. Rob Bartlett

    Rob Bartlett Stunt Coordinator

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    The MPAA are idiots. No doubts there.

    But let's face it, this is a case of crying over spilt, curlded milk. Paul Anderson makes crappy films. More gore wasn't going to helpt it. In fact, to complain about this rating is to say classic Horror films are no good, since they are tame by today's standards.

    A film like Pulp Fiction isn't a great movie because we actually see Ving Rhames being raped by the redneck. It's a great movie because of the speech at the end.It's a great movie becuase of the terrific music. It's a great movie becuase of the suave possessed by the characters. It might have been less shocking without some of its grislier scenes, but it would still fit the criteria we usually give to "great movies" (acting, story, etc.)

    Whether we want to see "more" or "less" is always subjective, but this isn't like Voltron where every time a bad guy was cut up, he was explained as a robot. As a comic book reader of the nineties, I understand the big difference between "for adults" and "mature".
     
  18. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Amen. And the British system is worse, because it takes the final decision away from the parent as to what's suitable (only recently revised to make the "12" rating advisory only) Go to http://www.bbfc.co.uk and see which films from America have been trimmed by a few seconds here or there to meet ratings requirements.

    Personally, I hate ANY ratings system.
     
  19. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    With Alien vs. Predator, since all related games are M except last year's Alien Versus Predator Extinction, and all movies are R, I'm not sure that the franchises have any fans that aren't allowed to see Rs.
     
  20. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    This thread reminded me of a comment by Roger Ebert in this week's Movie Answer Man column.
     

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