MPAA Celebrates 50 Years of Film Ratings

October 29, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) today released a report to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its film rating system. The report, “G” is for Golden: The MPAA Film Ratings at 50, includes the results of a new survey of American parents, never-before-released, comprehensive data on the nearly 30,000 films rated since 1968, and a detailed look at the history, evolution, and process behind the ratings.

The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) was created by former MPAA President and CEO Jack Valenti and first announced on November 1, 1968. This voluntary program provided an alternative to government censorship of movies, and was designed first and foremost to help parents make informed viewing choices for their children, while protecting the First Amendment, the rights of filmmakers, and the creative process.

“Given the extraordinary changes in our culture, entertainment, and society over the last 50 years, this anniversary feels particularly hard-earned and special,” said MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. “We could point to many factors behind the ratings’ success, but the clearest one of all comes directly from our founding mission: to maintain the trust and confidence of American parents.”

In conjunction with the 50-year milestone, the MPAA today also released:

  • A Digital Archive, featuring a collection of documents relating to the rating system’s founding and evolution, as well as the Hays Code, which preceded the MPAA ratings
  • A Series of Video Vignettes, featuring CARA Chair Joan Graves answering some of the most frequently asked questions on the MPAA ratings

“We often find that when people have problems or issues with the ratings, they are based on misconceptions about our purpose and role,” said Joan Graves, Chair of the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) and MPAA Senior Vice President. “It is our hope that with the release of these materials, we can promote a greater understanding of how the MPAA ratings serve parents, young audiences, and filmmakers alike.”

Key Highlights from “G” is for Golden: The MPAA Film Ratings at 50

  • A new 2018 survey of 1,559 parents of children between the ages of seven and 16 conducted by Nielsen on behalf of the MPAA found that the overwhelming majority of American parents are familiar with the rating system and find it helpful and accurate.
    • 91 percent of the parents are extremely familiar (54%) or very familiar (37%) with the rating system, and 80% are extremely (40%) or very (40%) familiar with rating descriptors.
    • 95 percent say they agree either strongly (59%) or somewhat (36%) that the ratings are helpful tools. 95% percent also agree that rating descriptors are helpful tools (60% agree strongly, 35% somewhat).
    • 84 percent of parents agree that the rating system is accurate in its classification of movies, and even more – 88 percent – agree the rating descriptors are accurate.
  • For the first time ever, the MPAA is releasing comprehensive data on all films rated throughout its 50-year history. The rating board is fast approaching an impressive 30,000 films rated since 1968.
    • Over its 50-year history, the MPAA has rated a total of 29,791 films.
      • 1,574 rated G
      • 5,578 rated M/GP/PG
      • 4,913 rated PG-13
      • 17,202 rated R
      • 524 rated X/NC-17
    • The MPAA has rated an average of 587 movies a year, with a high of 940 films rated in 2003, near the peak of the DVD boom.
    • Since 1968, of the nearly 30,000 films rated, 1.4 percent have been appealed (428), and 0.6 percent have had their rating overturned (165). Since the introduction of the PG-13 rating, most years have seen one percent or fewer ratings appealed.
  • While a lesser-known part of the rating process, the MPAA’s Advertising Administration is responsible for reviewing all advertising and publicity materials for rated films – from trailers, one-sheets, and billboards to Facebook ads, Snapchat filters, and promotional gifs. In the last year, the Advertising Administration has reviewed 68,000 pieces of advertising content to determine suitability for different audiences.
    • 15,835 pre-show trailers
    • 16,087 online ads
    • 16,448 print/outdoor materials
    • 15,492 TV/radio spots
    • 3,975 clips/promos

To download a complete version of the report, click here.


About the MPAA
The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries from its offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Its members include: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; 20th Century Fox Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Sony Entertainment Inc.

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For more information, contact:

MPAA Washington, D.C.
Chris Ortman
(202) 293-1966