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MPAA Unveils New Ratings Awareness Campaign

16 Apr, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) unveiled a new movie ratings awareness campaign April 16, pointing parents toward tools to help them make educated decisions about what their families watch.

“Throughout its existence, the goal of the rating system has never changed: to inform parents and allow them to make their own decisions, considering their children’s sensibilities and unique sensitivities,” said former Senator Chris Dodd, CEO of the MPAA. “In 1990, we took a significant step to advance that goal, introducing rating descriptors for every film that is rated ‘PG’ or higher, giving parents a snapshot of the content in each movie that leads to its rating.

“The campaign we are announcing today focuses on these descriptors, giving parents the information they need to navigate the rating system and movies coming to their theaters,” he continued. “We’ve produced something we believe you will be proud to showcase at your theaters.”

The campaign points parents to the descriptors included with ratings, which expand on why a movie earned its rating. The campaign — dubbed “Check the Box” — will include public service announcements (PSAs) and posters at theaters. One PSA video shows movie characters, each tagged from ‘G’ to ‘NC-17’ riding together on a bus, with a narrator explaining that each rating is determined “by parents, for parents.”

The film ratings awareness campaign comes after the MPAA and other entertainment groups met with White House officials earlier this year to discuss entertainment’s potential role in gun violence, following the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

“For over four decades, the rating system has represented an important partnership between MPAA and NATO,” Dodd said, speaking April 16 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. “We have committed ourselves to better educating America’s parents so they can make the best choice about what movies are right for their children to watch. As chairman, this is a responsibility I take very seriously. But those familiar letters have no strength without our joint commitment to enforce the system.”

Dodd also made mention of the state of the American box office and the industry’s fight against piracy. He noted that total global box office receipts for 2012 climbed to $34.7 billion, up 6% over 2011. Combined United States and Canada box office for 2012 was $10.8 billion.

However, piracy is still having an impact on the box office, he noted, urging the movie industry to embrace technological advances to stop it where they can.

“Stopping content theft must be a top priority to all of us. Especially when you consider that in some instances blockbuster films have been downloaded illegally hundreds of thousands of times, harming not only the producers, but you, the exhibitors as well,” he said. “Too many people still coat the pill of content theft in chocolate. Free speech, they say, gives them the right to consume and enjoy our content for free, that creative artists and ordinary working people spent years developing, producing and exhibiting.

“This fallacy must be aggressively challenged and countered by everyone in our industry.”

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