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LONDON — The arrival of Netflix and the uptick in streaming services has meant the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has upped its workload.
The British censor, publishing its annual report, said Thursday it has recorded a 40 percent rise in its online-only rating classifications.
The number of companies using the BBFC’s watch and rate service for online-only content more than doubled in 2012 compared to the previous year, with 11 new platforms licensed to use BBFC ratings online. Companies signing up last year include Netflix, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and airline operators British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
The report notes that the movie generating the most public feedback to the censor was Daniel Radcliffe starrer The Woman in Black.
The supernatural thriller coined $31 million, making it the second-most popular British film of last year, trailing only box-office juggernaut Skyfall.
The BBFC said 134 cinema-goers complained that the Radcliffe thriller was too dark and unsettling for a 12A certificate — similar to the PG-13 rating in the U.S.
The censor noted that some said the sense of threat, coupled with the theme of supernatural deaths of children in the film, was too disturbing for young audiences.
The BBFC said that factors such as the story being a traditional ghost story with a clear historical setting based on a well-known book studied in schools and the fact it is the basis of a stage play “lessened the sense of horror.”
Other U.S. titles also attracted public feedback. The 12A certificate given to The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, garnered attention, the BBFC said.
The BBFC classified the film 12A following edits to remove some violent detail but also gave an uncut version a 15 rating — one that does not have an equivalent in the U.S. but is closer to the R rating — a move which attracted “a small number” of complaints, the censor said.
The complaints were mostly from young fans of the books who believed the film should remain intact and that any cuts to the violence would sanitize its impact.
Men In Black 3, the second sequel in the comedy sci-fi action series with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, received 50 complaints for its language, violence, horror and sexual innuendo.
The film was classified PG — the same rating as in the U.S., as were the earlier two films in the franchise.
For the third outing, some parents found the figure of the villain, Boris the Animal, to be too frightening and the opening prison-break sequence too violent for young audiences, the BBFC noted. And the scene in which Boris and his girlfriend French kiss, with the sight of his unfeasibly long alien tongue, also was criticized; parents felt this “gross out” moment was “too overtly sexual for a PG audience.”
The BBFC said parents also expressed problems with the use of words such as “bullshit” and “arsehole,” which, while permitted at PG under the BBFC’s classification guidelines, somoe felt were not appropriate for eight-year-olds to hear.
The question of language in films at the lower categories was an issue raised regularly by cinemagoers, the BBFC said.
BBFC director David Cooke said: “In 2012, we looked back at our first 100 years, often in partnership with numerous organizations and individuals, all of whom added richness and expertise to our celebrations. But in examining the past, we also looked towards the future, where the BBFC will continue working with current and new partners to classify and label online content, better protect children and empower consumers.”
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