CinemaCon: MPAA Tweaks Movie Ratings System in Wake of Newtown School Shooting
UPDATED: National Association of Theatre Owners chief John Fithian also calls on Hollywood to make fewer R-rated films.
LAS VEGAS -- Following through on a commitment made to Vice President Biden in the wake of the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners are making minor tweaks to the movie-ratings system in order to better inform parents.
Earlier this year, following the Newtown school shooting, NATO president John Fithian and MPAA chairman and CEO Christopher Dodd met with a special task force on gun violence headed by Biden. The two trade groups jointly administer the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA).
The new "Check the Box" campaign will highlight descriptions of why a movie received a certain rating. Also, there will be a tag attached to trailers explaining that the trailer is approved to play with the feature they came to see. The campaign also includes a new PSA as well as a new poster that will be displayed at theaters nationwide.
Fithian also called on Hollywood to make fewer R-rated films.
"It's cool to be Quentin Tarantino and it's fun to make movies that have all those diverse elements," Fithian said at a press briefing following his presentation with Dodd. "But there's a bit of a disconnect between exhibitors and studios as to what works."
Asked whether he thinks the studios he represents make too many violent, R-rated films, Dodd pointed out that less than half of all studio films are rated R. He also said it wasn't his job to be a critic.
"There's a real desire to provide choice, and you don't want to change that," Dodd said.
Dodd and Fithian both heralded the new ratings campaign.
"Throughout its existence, the goal of the rating system has never changed: to inform parents and allow them to make their own decisions, considering their children’s sensibilities and unique sensitivities," Dodd said during his keynote address at CinemaCon.
Added Fithian, "These changes make the rating and advertising process more transparent and user-friendly for parents, and we are happy to support that endeavor."
Fithian also noted that the movie industry, along with the music and video game business, has made vast improvements in enforcing their respective ratings systems.
"A few weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission released a report on its most recent undercover shopper survey, with movie theaters scoring their highest since these surveys began over a decade ago," he said. "More than three in four underage teens were denied access to R-rated movies by ticket-sellers and ushers. This is a marked improvement in enforcement and a sign of the movie theater industry’s ongoing commitment to America’s parents."
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