What is the purpose of the rating system? The movie rating system is a voluntary system sponsored by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners to provide parents with advance information on films, enabling the parent to make judgments on movies they want or don't want their children to see.
Do the ratings indicate if a movie is good or bad? No, the system is not designed to serve the function of "critic." The ratings do not determine or reflect whether a film is "good" or "bad." The system is not intended to approve, disapprove or censor any film; it merely assigns a rating for guidance -- leaving the decision-making responsibilities to the parents.
Who gives movies their ratings? Parents give the movies their ratings - men and women just like you. They are part of a specially designed committee called the film rating board of Classification and Rating Administration. As a group they view each film, and, after a group discussion, vote on its rating, making an educated estimate as to which rating most American parents will consider the most appropriate.
What criteria do they use? The rating board uses the criteria you as a parent use when deciding what is suitable viewing for your child. Theme, language, violence, nudity, sex and drug use are among those content areas considered in the decision-making process. Also assessed is how each of these elements is employed in the context of each individual film. The rating board places no special emphasis on any of these elements; all are considered and examined before a rating is given.
Is the rating system a law? No, the rating system is strictly voluntary and carries no force of law.
Can a rating be changed? Yes, the rules permit movie producers to re-edit their films and re-submit them in hopes of receiving another rating. Producers may also appeal a rating decision to the Rating Appeals Board, which is composed of men and women from the industry organizations that sponsor the rating system. A two-thirds secret ballot vote of those present on the Appeals Board may overturn a rating board decision.
Do all movies have to be rated? No. Submitting a film is purely a voluntary decision made by the filmmakers. However, the overwhelming majority of producers creating entertaining, responsible films submit them for ratings. All five Classification and Rating Administration rating symbols have been trademarked and may not be self-applied.
Who enforces the ratings? While the decision to enforce the rating system is purely voluntary, the overwhelming majority of theaters follow the Classification and Rating Administration's guidelines and diligently enforce its provisions.
How do you get more information about a rating? For additional information about the voluntary movie rating system and ratings for new releases, visit the Motion Picture Association of America's home page on the World Wide Web. The address is www.mpaa.org. Or, in select cities, you may use the interactive phone guide, MovieFone.