What is the purpose
of the rating system?
Movie ratings provide parents with
advance information about the content of films to help them
determine what movies are appropriate for their young children and
at what age. Ratings are assigned by a Board of parents who
consider factors such as violence, sex, language, drug use and other
adult activities and assign a rating they believe the majority of
American parents would give a film.
Do the ratings indicate
if a movie is good or bad?
No. Audiences and film
critics make these determinations. The ratings are not
intended to approve, disapprove or censor any film. Rather, ratings
imply offer guidance to parents as to the level of content in a
Parents do. Film ratings are
determined by a Board of parents who are selected to represent a
diversity of American parents. Their job is to reflect what
they believe would be the majority view of their fellow parents in
rating a film. Raters have no prior affiliation with the movie
industry and are employed to work for the Classifications and Rating
Administration (CARA), which is independently financed through fees
it charges to rate films.
do they use?
In conducting their work, raters
consider the same factors parents might in making a judgment about a
film's appropriateness for their kids, including themes and content
such as language, violence, nudity, sex and drug use. All
these factors are considered in context when a final rating and
ratings descriptor are assigned to a film.
How do I know
specifically what kind of material is in a movie?
exception of G-rated films, which are deemed appropriate for all
ages, movie ratings feature brief explanatory phrases specific to
that film and its rating. Rating descriptors provide
information to parents on the specific type of material in each
movie that resulted in the rating so that the parent can decide if
that content is appropriate to the individual maturity and
sensitivities of their children. Rating reasons can be found
in most movie advertising, many film reviews and at
Do all movies
have to be rated?
No. Submitting a film for a rating
is a voluntary decision made by filmmakers. However, the
overwhelming majority of filmmakers have their film rated, and each
member of the Motion Picture Association of America has agreed to
have all their theatrically released films rated.
Is the rating
system a law? If not, who enforces it?
No. The movie rating system is a
voluntary system sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of
America and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).
The members of NATO enforce the system by asking for identification
and refusing admission to R-rated movies by unaccompanied children
or to NC-17 movies by children whether or not accompanied.
Retailers and rental stores also enforce the ratings for movies
released on video. Some parents inquire about whether it is
legal for other parents to bring their very young children to
R-rated films. The R rating contains the strict and explicit
caution that "generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring
their young children with them to R-rated movies."
As a parent,
where can I learn more about ratings?
The Motion Picture Association of America
offers a free weekly email service that provides ratings information
on current films. Please sign up today for this free and
convenient service at
What about movie advertising in
Every CARA-rated film is required to have
all of its advertising approved. The Advertising
Administration reviews 60,000 marketing pieces - from movie trailers
to posters to Internet ads - each year. Our goal is to respect
parents who do not want their young children exposed to
inappropriate content, while allowing filmmakers to responsibly
market their movies to their intended audiences. Film
advertising that is widely viewed in public areas, such as theater
lobbies, must be appropriate for general audiences. Movie
trailers featuring stronger content are permitted to run only before
feature films with a similar rating and themes. The objective
is to give parents a reasonable expectation that if they are
comfortable with the content of the feature film, then they will be
comfortable with the content of the trailers preceding it.
WHAT DOES EACH RATING MEAN?
General Audiences. All Ages Admitted.
A G-rated motion picture signifies that the film rated contains nothing
most parents will consider offensive for even their youngest
children to see or hear. Nudity, sex scenes, and scenes of
drug use are absent; violence is minimal; snippets of dialogue may
go beyond polite conversation but do not go beyond common everyday
- Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material
May Not Be Suitable For Children.
The PG rating indicates that parents may consider some
material unsuitable for their children. A PG-rated motion picture may
contain some profanity and some depictions of violence, sensuality or brief
nudity. But, these elements are not deemed so intense as to require that
parents be stongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance.
There is no drug use content in a PG-rated motion picture.
PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material
May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.
A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme,
violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or
other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category. Any drug use;
more than brief nudity, though not sexually oriented;
some depictions of violence, though not both realistic and extreme or persistent
violence; and the use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only
as an expletive, will initially require at least a PG-13 rating.
Restricted. Children Under 17 Require
Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
An R-rated motion picture may include depiction of adult themes, adult activity,
hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug
abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very
seriously. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their
young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.
NC-17 - No One 17 and Under Admitted.
An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that most
parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under.
An NC-17 rating can be based on
violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most
parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their
children. The rating does not indicate that the motion
picture is “obscene” or “pornographic” in the common or legal meaning of
those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense.
rating information and rules, please visit
system is committed to providing parents with clear, concise
information about the content of movies. This includes
"Red Carpet Rating", a free
weekly email service that provides ratings information on current
To learn more
about movie ratings, to find rating information on a specific film,
or to sign up for
"Red Carpet Rating":