Movie Rating System

Empowering Families To Make Informed Movie Choices
Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.
Parents urged to give "parental guidance". May contain some material parents might not like for their young children.
Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
Clearly adult. Children are not admitted.

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 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 simply offer guidance to parents as to the type of content in a film.

Who Rates Movies?

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 Classification and Rating Administration, which is independently financed through fees it charges to rate films.

What Criteria 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 rating descriptor are assigned to a film.

Do All Movies Have To Be Rated?

No. Submitting a film for rating is a voluntary decision made by the filmmaker. However, each member of the Motion Picture Association of America has agreed to have all its theatrically released films rated, and the overwhelming majority of filmmakers choose to have their films rated.

Does The PG-13 Rating Mean I Should Not Take My Under 13 Child To See The Movie?

The PG-13 rating provides a warning to parents to investigate the movie before allowing their young children to view it, as some material in the motion picture may not be suitable for them. Unlike the R and NC-17 ratings, however, the PG-13 rating is not a restrictive rating and admission is permitted by – and sometimes may be appropriate for – children younger than 13. Attendance by children of various ages at a PG-13 motion picture is decision best made by their parents, taking into consideration the age, maturity and individual sensitivity of each child and the type of content in each movie. Parents may look at the rating descriptors, movie reviews and other sources to determine whether the content of a particular motion picture is suitable for their children.

How Do I Know Specifically What Kind Of Material Is In A Movie?

With the exception of G-rated films, which are deemed appropriate for all ages, movie ratings feature brief explanatory phrases specific to that film. 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 based on the individual maturity and sensitivities of their children. CHECK THE BOX – rating descriptors can be found in most movie advertising, many film reviews and at

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.

Why Do I See Children In The Theater At R-Rated Movies?

The R rating means that any child under the age of 17 may be allowed into the movie only if he/she will be viewing the movie with his/her parent or adult guardian. A movie is rated R when, in the opinion of the Rating Board, it includes adult material. While the decision to take a child to an R-rated movie is one left to parents, the rating signifies that parents should find out more about the film before they take their children to see it. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children to R-rated movies.

Does Anyone Look At The Posters And Trailers At Movie Theaters Before They Are Shown?

Yes. The Advertising Administration reviews over 60,000 pieces of advertising each year for all movies that will be rated by the Classification and Rating Administration; not only trailers and lobby posters, but billboards, TV ads, Internet ads and more. Their goal is to approve advertising that will be suitable for the intended audience. In theaters, the advertising in public areas that will be widely viewed (such as lobbies), should be suitable for general audiences. Trailers are approved based on compatibility with the feature, taking into consideration the intended audience. For example, advertisements with stronger content may play before movies intended for older audiences and you wouldn't expect to see those same trailers before a children's movie. The objective is to give parents a reasonable expectation that if they are comfortable with the content of the feature film, they will likely be comfortable with the content of trailers which have been approved to play before it.