R-rated comedies suffer at boxoffice

Restricted rating does not affect horror films

Restricted ratings limit the boxoffice prospects of comedies most dramatically, but horror films aren't hurt at all by R ratings from the MPAA.

Those are among the findings of a recent study by Nielsen PreView.

"It is common knowledge that films with an R rating come with some trade-offs, most notably boxoffice sales," Nielsen PreView spokesman Dan O'Toole said. "Our research now quantifies how big those trade-offs are and for which genres is the price being paid the highest."

Nielsen PreView -- which, like The Hollywood Reporter, is a unit of the Nielsen Co. -- released the report via its members-only Web site. The study involved an analysis of 400 films released from September 2005 through December07, comparing the boxoffice performance of R-rated films with those getting PG-13 ratings.

In the aggregate, dramas fell somewhere between comedies and horror films for total gross lost to restricted ratings. But 34% of all R-rated drama titles would have performed better with a PG-13 rating, Nielsen PreView estimated.

About 17% of all comedies would benefit from a less restrictive rating -- and benefit much more than dramas on an average gross basis -- but virtually no horror titles would have grossed any higher with a PG-13 rating, the study found. On the other hand, Nielsen PreView said its study found that PG-13 and R-rated horror films tend to complement one another on the release calendar.

"When we looked at the data, PG-13 horror films appeal more to females and R-rated ones appeal to males," O'Toole said. "So there's a purpose for both."