How Movies Receive Their Ratings

Many Americans use the MPAA’s formalized rating system as a guide for which films to see. The Onion provides a step-by-step view into how these ratings are chosen:

‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ Turns 90

Winnie-The-Pooh, the A.A. Milne series featuring a stuffed bear and his toy animal friends, debuted 90 years ago this week. Here are some milestones from the franchise’s nearly century-long run:

50 Years Of ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek, the science-fiction show about the crew of the starship Enterprise, premiered 50 years ago today on NBC, spawning a cult following and decades of spin-offs. Here are some milestones from the franchise’s 50-year history

How Big-Budget Movies Flop

Despite the recent box-office failures of Exodus, Ben-Hur, and Gods Of Egypt, studios continue to fund big-budget movies they hope will achieve blockbuster success. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how one of these movies becomes a flop:

Your Horoscopes — Week Of August 30, 2016

ARIES: Sometimes in life, you just need to stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a step back. Actually, maybe it’s two steps back. Yeah, that’s good. Keep going. The stars will let you know when you’re far enough.

‘Rugrats’ Turns 25

This August marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Rugrats, the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon about intrepid baby Tommy Pickles and his group of toddler friends. Here are some milestones from the show’s nine-season run

Your Horoscopes — Week Of August 9, 2016

ARIES: Your life’s story will soon play out in front of movie theater audiences across the country, though it’ll only last about 30 seconds and advertise free soft drink refills in the main lobby.

Director Has Clear Vision Of How Studio Will Destroy Movie

LOS ANGELES—Saying he can already picture exactly what the finished cut will look like on the big screen, Hollywood film director Paul Stanton told reporters Wednesday he has a clear vision of how studio executives will totally destroy his upcoming movie.

Your Horoscopes — Week Of June 14, 2016

ARIES: Once the laughter dies down, the party favors are put away, and the monkeys led back inside their cages, you’ll finally be given a chance to explain your side of the story.

Lost Jack London Manuscript, ‘The Doggy,’ Found

RYE, NY—Workers inventorying the estate of a recently deceased Westchester County art dealer earlier this month reportedly stumbled upon a draft of a previously unknown Jack London novel titled The Doggy, and the work is already being hailed by many within the literary world as a masterpiece.

Guide To The Characters Of ‘The Force Awakens’

The highly anticipated seventh episode in the ‘Star Wars’ series, ‘The Force Awakens,’ which will be released December 18, will feature several returning characters as well as a host of new ones. Here is a guide to the characters of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’

Robert De Niro Stunned To Learn Of Man Who Can Quote ‘Goodfellas’

‘Bring Him To Me,’ Actor Demands

NEW YORK—Immediately halting production on his latest project after hearing of the incredible talent, legendary actor Robert De Niro was reportedly stunned to learn Wednesday that Bayonne, NJ resident Eric Sullivan, 33, can quote the critically acclaimed 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas at length.

Timeline Of The James Bond Series

This week marks the release of the 24th film in the James Bond franchise, Spectre, featuring Daniel Craig in his fourth appearance as the British secret agent. Here are some notable moments from the film series’s 53-year history
End Of Section
  • More News


MPAA Adds New Rating To Warn Audiences Of Films Not Based On Existing Works

The MPAA’s new O rating will appear on all movies containing explicitly original, unadapted, and unfamiliar material.
The MPAA’s new O rating will appear on all movies containing explicitly original, unadapted, and unfamiliar material.

WASHINGTON—In an effort to provide moviegoers with the information they need to determine which films are appropriate for them to see, the Motion Picture Association of America announced Tuesday the addition of a new rating to alert audiences of movies that are not based on existing works.

According to MPAA officials, the new “O,” or “Original,” designation will inform viewers that a particular film contains characters with whom they are unfamiliar, previously unseen settings, and novel plots. The rating will also reportedly serve as a warning of the potentially disorienting effects associated with having to remember characters’ names for as many as two hours and the discomfort that can occur when one is forced to keep track of narrative arcs for an entire film.

“It’s simply a value-neutral designation intended to protect consumers, ensuring that they are fully informed about a movie and are able to make their own decisions about how much artistic and narrative originality they are comfortable seeing.”

“We recognize how distressing it can be when viewers go into a film and suddenly find themselves confronted with jarring scenes containing a protagonist they’ve never encountered before, which is precisely why we created this rating,” said Joan Graves, head of the MPAA’s ratings board, who said the new category was added in part due to the thousands of complaints the organization has received from moviegoers who were upset they weren’t given advance notice that they’d have to make sense of the scenarios unfolding onscreen. “It’s important that today’s movie fans are aware upon entering the theater that none of what they will see has been adapted from a well-known comic book, television series, novel, video game, historical event, previous movie, or theme park ride.”

“Ultimately, it will be up to the consumer’s discretion as to whether a film is suitable for themselves and their family, but the O rating will explicitly caution people that they will have to pay attention during the movie and follow the storyline on their own,” Graves added.

Though sources said films requiring the new rating are comparatively rare, a spate of high-profile movies over the past several years that do not stem from any previously existing source material—including The Kids Are All Right, Her, WALL-E, Birdman, and Nebraska, among others—have left many viewers angered and perplexed. Citing test audiences they have observed, MPAA officials said that many moviegoers spent the entirety of such films in a state of distress, waiting for the moment when the Incredible Hulk, Katniss Everdeen, Wolverine, or another recognizable character from an established franchise would appear onscreen and clarify the meaning and direction of the film.

“I never would have gone to see Sicario if I knew it was going to be so unbearable,” said filmgoer Mark Kemmer of Cleveland, referring to the recently released crime thriller set against the violent backdrop of the contemporary Mexican drug trade that, under the MPAA’s guidelines, would receive the new rating. “It was pretty much unwatchable. It seemed like in nearly every scene I had to figure out who the people were and where the story was going. And the whole movie was like that!”

“What a waste of money,” he added.

Others reported being viscerally repulsed by movies they attended that were not based on media that originated several decades or generations earlier, saying they had become so upset by what they had seen that they had trouble even sitting through the films.

“How does this trash even get made?” said Katherine Hubbard, a mother of three from Rockford, IL, who, after buying tickets for the Pixar film Inside Out, was incensed that her children had been exposed to original storytelling. “Within the first minute, some little girl character my kids have never seen or heard of walks onscreen, and then we immediately have to learn her whole backstory and how she navigates the world? I marched us all right out of that theater after about 10 minutes.”

While audiences have reportedly been receptive to the new rating, directors and distributors have already decried it as severely damaging in regard to box-office revenues and the number of venues that will carry their films. However, the MPAA was adamant that the new classification should not be interpreted as censorship.

“The O rating isn’t meant to be a punishment or a moral judgment of any kind,” Graves said. “It’s simply a value-neutral designation intended to protect consumers, ensuring that they are fully informed about a movie and are able to make their own decisions about how much artistic and narrative originality they are comfortable seeing.”

“If filmmakers want to avoid the rating and appeal to a wider audience, all they have to do is throw in a superhero or a hobbit or some other licensed property,” Graves added.

Entertainment Video

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close