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MPAA Ratings History

for MPAA History, click here

One way to help in dating your posters is to look at the MPAA ratings. In 1968, when the MPAA first released the ratings, there were only 4 ratings. The original movie ratings consisted of:

Rated G – Suggested For GENERAL Audiences (including children).

Rated M – Suggested For MATURE Audiences: Parental Discretion Advised.

Rated R – RESTRICTED: Children under 17 (originally 16) not admitted unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian; some theater chains specifically stated that the "adult guardian" must be at least 21.

Rated X – Children Under 17 Not Admitted; the notation "Age limit may vary in certain areas" was sometimes added.

Many parents thought films rated M contained more adult content than those that were rated R; this confusion led to its replacement in 1969 by GP:

Rated GP – General Public – Parental guidance suggested.

In 1970 GP was changed to PG.

Sometimes during 1972, they standardized the ratings tags.

In 1984, the actions of Steven Spielberg pushed to introduce a PG-13 rating. Check out this news release. Violent scenes in the PG-rated films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins , led Spielberg to suggest a new PG-13 rating to Jack Valenti. After conferring with theater owners, the new rating was introduced on July 1. The rating still allows children under 13 to be admitted without a parent or guardian, but it alerts parents about potentially shocking violence or sexual content.

The first movie to be released with a PG-13 rating was the 1984 release of Red Dawn.

In the early years of the ratings system, X-rated movies such as Midnight Cowboy (1969) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) could win Academy Award nominations and awards. But the rating was used by the adult entertainment industry to the point that an X rating became synonymous with pornography.

This led to large number of newspapers and TV stations refusing to accept ads for X-rated movies, and some theaters' refused to exhibit X-rated movies. Such policies led to a compromise with the distributors of George Romero's 1979 horror film Dawn of the Dead: the audience restriction for X would be enforced, but the letter "X" itself would not appear in the film's advertisements or displays, with the following message being substituted: "There is no explicit sex in this picture; however, there are scenes of violence which may be considered shocking. No one under 17 will be admitted." The same dispensation was granted to some later horror films, including Zombie and Day of the Dead.

The MPAA introduced the NC-17 (not for children 17 or under) rating on September 27, 1990 to differentiate MPAA-rated adult-oriented films from movies rated X by their producers. This move was largely prompted by Universal Pictures' Henry & June (1990), which would have otherwise received a dreaded X rating. However, media outlets which refused ads for X-rated titles simply transferred that policy to NC-17 titles, as did many theater landlords; large video chains including Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video refuse to stock NC-17 titles. While a number of movies have been released with the NC-17 rating, none of them has been a box-office hit.

The current MPAA movie ratings consist of:

Rated G – GENERAL AUDIENCES: All ages admitted.

Rated PG – PARENTAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTED: Some material may not be suitable for children.

Rated PG-13 – PARENTS STRONGLY CAUTIONED: Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Rated R – RESTRICTED: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Rated NC-17 – No one 17 and under admitted.

X or XXX is still used by the adult industry but is not regulated by MPAA

If a film was never submitted for a rating, the label "NR" (Not Rated) is often used, however "NR" is not an official MPAA classification.

Film that have not yet received MPAA classification are advertised under the banner, "This film is not yet rated".




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