MPAA leader Dan Glickman had a lot more to say about the ratings system this week during the ShoWest film exhibition and distribution convention. As you remember, the MPAA unveiled revisions to its system earlier this year, and since then it has had to continually explain, clarify, defend and fine tune its changes due to confusion and dissatisfaction. One thing that continues to be unclear, though, is if the MPAA is more interested in removing the stigma of the NC-17 rating or in altering the perception that an R-rated film is perfectly suitable for all ages. On Thursday the Classification and Ratings Administration, which operates the ratings system for the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), revealed a new advisory for the R rating that it hopes will be a better warning to parents. It will read: "Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures."
Additionally, some theater chains are looking to go further and ban very young children from R-rated movies, a practice already observed by many art house cinemas. NATO head John Fithian also spoke about the ratings system at ShoWest, and it is apparent that theater owners have their own ideas regarding the subject. First he stressed the importance of having theatrical releases rated by the MPAA in order to perform well. Even though the NC-17 rating has a stigma attached, movies released with that rating earn more money than those released without a rating. He also claimed that without the ratings system we'd possibly have to deal instead with a government-run system of censorship.
Finally he made a request for Hollywood to stop releasing special unrated editions of DVDs -- or at least stop marketing them as being better because they are uncensored. He said that this practice undermines the authority and purpose of the ratings, plus it emphasizes the idea that for some movies it is better to avoid the theater and to wait for the more complete DVD. I guess we'll have to see if the studios abide by this request, but just be warned there may only be one version of Knocked Up, so you might as well just go see it in the theater. Grindhouse, on the other hand, will probably need an unrated DVD no matter what.