Motion picture rating systems are issued to give moviegoers an idea of the suitability of a movie for children and/or adults in terms of issues such as sex, violence and bad language. In some jurisdictions, they may impose legal obligations of refusing the entrance of children or minors to certain movies; in others, while there is no legal obligation to do so strictly speaking, movie theaters enforce the restrictions. Ratings are often given in lieu of censorship.
The Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) uses the following system:
- G Suitable for all viewers. It is noted by the board that a "G" movie rating in Australia doesn't indicate the movie is intended for children, simply that nothing in the movie will be disturbing or harmful to children.
- PG Parental Guidance recommended for children under 15 years of age.
- M Mature, recommended for audiences 15 years and over. Note: this is not a legally restricted Australian movie rating, but movies in this category cannot be recommended for those under 15 years.
- MA Mature Accompanied. This category is legally restricted in that children under 15 cannot see "MA" films or rent them on video unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
- R Restricted. This category is legally restricted to adults. No one under 18 may view these movies in a cinema or rent them on videocassette.
- X Restricted. This rating applies to sexually explicit material which is restricted to viewers 18 years of age and over. Although there is no federal restriction on X rated material, it is officially illegal all states - meaning it is legally only available in the Australian Capital Territory. In practice, however, most authorities turn a blind eye within the states.
- E Exempt from classification - thus not a rating as such. These are usually educational programs.
Movies are rated in Brazil by the DJCTQ, or Department of Justice, Rating, Titles and Qualification (Departamento de Justiça, Classificação, Títulos e Qualificação in Portuguese). No "parental guidance" ratings are used.
The DJCTQ uses the following system:
- Livre (General): This rating means that the film can be watched by anyone, and doesn't have any inappropriate content.
- 12 anos (12 years): This film is recommended for persons with or over 12 years of age. May contain little inappropriate language, sex insinuations, or mild violence.
- 14 anos (14 years): This film is recommended for persons with or over 14 years of age. May contain inappropriate language, sex insinuations and/or mild sex with no nudity or the act being explicit shown, violence, mention to drug use.
- 16 anos (16 years): This film is recommended for persons with or over 16 years of age. May contain strong language, sex insinuations and/or mild sex with or without mild nudity, strong violence, drug use.
- 18 anos (18 years): This film is forbidden for people under 18 years of age. It may contain strong language, intense sex, strong nudity, strong violence, intense drug use. It is also used to rate porn films.
People under the minimum age intended by the rating can watch the movie accompanied by their parents, except for porn films. The films are rated by trained raters and more recently, the DJCTQ makes surveys to see if the people agree or not with the rating intended for a specific film.
Movie ratings in Canada are mostly a provincial responsibility.
The Ontario Film Review Board uses the following system:
- Family. Film appropriate for viewing by a person of any age.
- Parental Guidance. Parents should exercise discretion in permitting a child to view the film.
- 14A. Persons younger than 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
- 18A. Persons younger than 18 years of age must be accompanies by an adult.
- Restricted. Film restricted to persons 18 years of age or older.
- Adult movies are given a sticker which denotes:
- Running Time
- Distributor ID
- Approval certificate number
The British Columbia system is:
- General. All ages. The contents of these motion pictures are suitable for viewing by all ages.
- Parental Guidance. All ages. Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.
- 14 Accompaniment (14A). Anyone under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Parents cautioned. These films may contain violence, coarse language, and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
- 18 Accompaniment (18A). Anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.
- Restricted. No one under the age of 18 may view under any circumstances. Content not suitable for minors. May contain scenes of explicit sex and/or violence. However, the film classification office considers these films to have some artistic, historical, political, educational or scientific merit.
- Adult. No one under 18 may view under any circumstances. May contain explicit sexual scenes and/or violence. However, the classification office considers these films to be tolerable to the community.
In Quebec the Régie du Cinéma uses the following ratings.
- G. (Visa général) -- May be viewed, rented or purchased by persons of all ages. A classification of "Visa général" means that the film so classified is unlikely to disturb an average viewer. It in no way indicates that the film is considered to be "suitable" for children. Only a "for children" notice would indicate that such a film would be appropriate for younger viewers.
- 13+. (13 ans+) -- May be viewed, rented or purchased by persons 13 years of age or over. Children 12 years of age and under may be admitted to a public showing of the film, but only if accompanied by an adult aged 16 or older. When rating a film as 13+, the examiners consider: certain scenes of violence (senseless destruction, physical harm, graphic violence, etc.); the representation of sexuality (extremely detailed intimate scenes, sexual relationships promoting dominance or disturbing situations, etc.); certain themes (suicide, family break-ups, mental instability, marginal behaviour, etc.).
- 16+. (16 ans+) -- May be viewed, rented or purchased by persons 16 years of age or over. These films may contain complex sequences, including violent or erotic elements, as well as certain problematic situations encountered by adults. However, the examiners are required to conduct a rigorous evaluation when considering the following; detailed and complacent images of unwarranted or sustained violence; particularly troubling images; the manner in which sexuality is depicted.
- 18+. (18 ans+) -- May be viewed, rented or purchased by persons 18 years of age or over. This classification is used a;most exclusively for pornographic films. Video stores must keep them in a separate adults only room room or the entire store must be off limits to minors e.g. a sex shop.
The Canadian Home Video Rating System uses the following system for home video:
- C. Intended for children only.
- C8. Intended for children age 8 or older.
- G. Suitable for viewing by all ages.
- PG. Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.
- 14A. Suitable for people 14 years of age or older. Those under 14 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 14. Parents cautioned. May contain violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
- 18A. Suitable for people 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.
- R. Restricted to 18 years and older. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Contents not suitable for minors. Contains frequent sexual activity, brutality/graphic violence, intense horror, and/or other disturbing content.
- E. Exempt. Contains material not subject to classification, such as documentaries, nature, travel, music, arts and culture, sports and leisure, educational and instructional information.
Other provinces use different ratings, such as Saskatchewan's "Parental Accompaniment" indicating children under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult. That province also had a controversial rating in the 1970s and 1980s called "Special X" which was an early version of today's NC-17 rating, though it was occasionally placed on films that received as low as a PG rating in other parts of Canada and the U.S. (an example being the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.)
The [Council for Children and Young People (http://www.medieraadet.dk/html/gb/gb.htm|Media)] uses the following classifications.
- A Approval of the film for general admittance.
- 7 Approval of the film for general admittance, but not recommended for children under the age of 7.
- 11 Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 11.
- 15 Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15.
Children who have turned 7 are allowed admission to all films if accompanied by an adult (a person turned 18). Consequently it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their children do not watch violent and hard-core pornographic films.
Films accessible to the public do not have to be classified by the Media Council but consequently must be labeled as 15 -Approval of the film for admittance of children from the age of 15 – no matter the harmlessness of the film.
Prior to showing in theaters, a license must be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. Upon the advice of the commission pertaining to cinema movies, the minister decides either not to grant the license (a very rare occurrence), either to grant a license among the 5 following:
- U valid for all audiences;
- 12 with a prohibition for minors of 12;
- 16 with a prohibition for minors of 16;
- 18 with a prohibition for minors of 18.
In addition, the movie may be considered "pornographic or inciting to violence" (colloquially referred to as "X-rated"). In this case, it bears high taxation and may only be shown in specific theaters, which are now few in France. This classification is not used for merely violent movies, or movies containing mere erotic scenes.
Classifications, as all administrative decisions, may be appealed before the courts (Conseil d'État at litigation). A highly publicized example of this is the movie Baise-moi, containing scenes of graphic sex and violence; it was initially not rated "pornographic or inciting to violence", but associations sued and obtained the "X classification".
Related link: movie classifications (http://www.cnc.fr/a_presen/r2/ssrub2/p2_2_clas.htm) (in French)
The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (FSK) has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories -
- no age limit: for all ages
- 6: no one under 6 years admitted
- 12: people 12 or older admitted, children between 6 and 11 only when accompanied by parent
- 16: no one under 16 years admitted
- no youth admitted: only adults (18 or older) admitted
The Film Censorship Authority in Hong Kong has a film classification system under which films are classified into one of the following categories -
- I suitable for all ages
- IIA not suitable for children
- IIB not suitable for young persons and children
- III for persons aged 18 or above only
While Categories I, IIA and IIB are advisory in nature, the age restriction (18 or above) for Category III films is strictly enforced.
Apart from films, packagings of Category III videotapes and laser disks and advertising materials of Category III films must be approved by the Film Censorship Authority (FCA) before they can be published or publicly displayed.
The Film Censor's Office under which films, videos and DVDs are placed into one of the following categories:
- G - 'General' - Suitable for viewing by anyone.
- PG - 'Parental Guidance' - Parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12.
- 12PG - 'Parent supervision required for children under 12' - A person over 18 years of age must accompany a child under the age of 12 when seeing a film theatrically. This is very similar to the 12A certificate that the BBFC introduced in August 2002.
- 15PG - 'Parent supervision required for children under 15' - A much stronger warning that, although the film may be unsuitable for a child under the age of 15 watching alone, a child with an adult may be admitted to the film's screening.
- 18 - 'Adults only' - The film is suitable only for adults. A person under this age will not be admitted. 9 Songs in October 2004 became the first film featuring explicit sex scenes to receive a certificate.
Films without certification are not ipso facto banned and have been shown at film festivals and arthouse clubs such as the Irish Film Institute.
The General Direction of Radio, Television and Cinematography (in Spanish, Dirección General de Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía, or RTC (http://www.rtc.gob.mx)) is the issuer of the television programs (although only one channel in Mexico explicitly shows the classification on each program's start, channel 22 Cultural Television) and Motion Pictures. The RTC is a dependency of the Department of State (Secretaría de Gobernación (http://www.segob.gob.mx). It has it's own classification system, and is as follows:
- AA Informative-only rating: Specially suited for the interests of children under 7. No (or minimum) violence, drugs nor sexual (may include affective and friendly scenes) content under this rating. E.g., cartoons.
- A Informative-only rating: General Audience. Suited for all audience, but not in the special interest of children under 7. Minimum or non violence, sexual, drug use content. Suited for children under 12.
- B Informative-only rating: For teenagers of 12 years-old and up. Parental guidance suggested. Minimum and specific motivated non extreme violence, may contain suggestive sexual conducts, but non-explicit content. Nudity might be present, but not in an erotic or degrading way. Drug use are present, but not during consumption. And drugs are threated with negative consequences. Dirty language might be present, but not extreme verbal violence.
- B-15 Informative-only rating: For teenager over 15. More explicit content than B rating, but not extreme violence, explicit sexual and drugs conducts, and non extreme verbal violence. Drug use must not be propitiated.
- C Restrictive rating: For adults over 18. High degree of violence (including cruelty), explicit sexual, drug use and addictions content. The language is the needed for the narrative purposes.
- D Restrictive rating: Adult-only Movies. Commonly known as X-rated. Most or unique content is: explicit sex, bad language or high degree of violence.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) first divides films into two categories ; unrestricted and restricted. Unrestricted films are assigned a rating label. Restricted films are assigned a classification label. The common labels in each category are as follows:
- G Suitable for all.
- PG Parental guidance recommended for younger viewers.
- M Mature; Suitable for people 16 years or older. Parental decision whether to let children watch a particular film
- R13 Restricted to 13 year-olds and older
- R15 Restricted to 15 year-olds and older
- R16 Restricted to 16 year-olds and older
- R18 Restricted to 18 year-olds and older
- R A special restriction (details of the restriction noted to the right of the label). Equivalent to the old 'RP' classification.
In Norway all movies have to be approved by Medietilsynet (The Norwegian Media Authority), a government agency, to be exhibited commercially.
Movies are rated using the following classifications:
- Alle (all ages)
Films rated 7, 11 or 15 may also be seen by children accompanied by a parent or adult guardian if the child has turned 4, 8 or 12 years, respectively.
The Swedish National Board of Film Censors (SBB) reviews all pre-recorded video recordings prior to showing at a public gathering or entertainment (subject to some exceptions) in accordance with law SFS 1990:886. It is a criminal offense to hire or sell videos containing unlawful depictions of violence, and to hire or sell videos depicting realistic violence to children below the age of 15.
The following categories are used by the SBB:
- Suitable for all ages
- 7 years Suitable for children of at least 7 years of age. Younger children are not admitted unless accompanied by an adult.
- 11 years Suitable for children of at least 11 years of age. Children of at least 7 years of age are admitted if accompanied by an adult.
- 15 years No one under 16 years of age admitted.
Taiwan (Republic of China)
The Government Information Office (http://www.gio.gov.tw/) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) divides licensed films into one of the following four legally binding categories in Chinese characters (with approximate but unofficial translation):
- 普遍級(普) General - General audiences may all view.
- 保護級(護) Protective - Children under 6 years old must not view. Children aged at least 6 but less than 12 require guidance of accompanying parents, teachers, or adult relatives to view.
- 輔導級(輔) Guidance - Children under 12 years old must not view. People aged at least 12 but less than 18 require attentive guidance of parents or teachers to view.
- 限制級(限) Restricted - People under 18 years old must not view.
Related and official link: Classifications of movies (http://www.gio.gov.tw/info/law/movie/3.htm) (in traditional Chinese)
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rates both motion pictures and videos. Local authorities are responsible for accepting and enforcing the BBFC's recommended ratings for cinema showings, whereas those for videos are legally binding.
The current BBFC system is:
- Uc (Universal Children) Suitable for all but especially for young children (video only).
- U (Universal) Suitable for all.
- PG All ages admitted, but Parental Guidance is recommended. It is the board's policy that movies rated "PG" should not disturb a child of about 8 years of age or older; however, "parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset young or more sensitive children."
- 12A/12 No one under 12 years of age may see a "12A" film (unless accompanied by an adult) in a cinema or rent or buy a "12" video.
- 15 No one under 15 years of age may see a "15" film or rent or buy a "15" video.
- 18 Suitable only for adults. No one under 18 years of age may see an "18" film or rent or buy an "18" video.
- R18 To be supplied only in licensed sex shops or cinemas to adults of not less than 18 years of age.
- E Exempt from BBFC rating system (so technically not a rating). (Often these are specialist educational programmes)
For a history of the BBFC's classification system, see History of British Film Certificates.
In the United States, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) issues ratings for movies. The system was instituted in 1968 and is voluntary; however, most movie theater chains will not show unrated films.
The ratings as they exist in 2003 are:
- G - General Audience - Movie suitable for all ages
- PG - Parental guidance suggested - Contains mature themes, may not be suitable for small children, especially those under the age of 6
- PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned - Contains mature themes, may not be suitable for children under 13 years old
- R - Restricted - Contains mature themes (usually sex and/or violence). Children under 17 not admitted without an adult
- NC-17 - No children 17 and under admitted.
- NR or Not Rated - Not an MPAA rating. Used for independent or foreign films that are in limited release and have not been submitted to the MPAA for a rating classification. Also used by a film that is soon to be released and has trailers out for promotional purposes, but has not yet received a final rating.
For history and more details, see MPAA film rating system.
See also: TV Parental Guidelines
- List of certificates (http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Certificates/types_all) recorded in the IMDb database. Note that while extensive, this list is not exhaustive, and that it mixes current and old rating systems and does not specify which is which, thus making it difficult to use.