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