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Thread: Ratings system

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK A Pemberton's Avatar
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    Can anyone explain how the NR or not rated system works in the USA? ,Looking at a dvd of "The Man Who Fell to Earth" it is rated as NR so was " A Canterbury Tale"

    What version of say the David Bowie or the P&P film would I get ,do the censors look at the film at all ,hard to believe with the americans!

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    If the movie is listed as unrated, then it hasn't been submitted to censors at all. The ratings system in the US is voluntary, so it's up to the filmmakers to submit their films for a rating (which they'd probably do only for commercial/distribution reasons). The director's cut of "Man who Fell to Earth" would be my choice!

  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Pemberton
    Can anyone explain how the NR or not rated system works in the USA? ,Looking at a dvd of "The Man Who Fell to Earth" it is rated as NR so was " A Canterbury Tale"

    What version of say the David Bowie or the P&P film would I get ,do the censors look at the film at all ,hard to believe with the americans!


    It's hard to find any but the "proper" version of A Canterbury Tale.

    The recent DVD from Criterion includes some of the "bookends" that were filmed later to make an American version but there were also a lot of cuts and quite a bit more narration by John Sweet (to cover the cuts?). But that version never did very well in the States and it's very hard to find the full "American version". Stick to the origianl version, as may been seen in near perfect condition on that same DVD



    Steve

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: UK A Pemberton's Avatar
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    If I understand Chris_w reply, is it correct that any film not rated would have trouble with distribution and therefore affect its box office being stuck in say, art house cinemas.

    Taking my two examples why did the producers not put pressure on Nic Roeg and Michael Powell on original release to gain a certificate and boost box office,(or is this just a DVD certification)Is it coincidence that both films are British directors or is it a general trend that British/European films are usually released in America as Not Rated?

  5. #5
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Pemberton
    If I understand Chris_w reply, is it correct that any film not rated would have trouble with distribution and therefore affect its box office being stuck in say, art house cinemas.

    Taking my two examples why did the producers not put pressure on Nic Roeg and Michael Powell on original release to gain a certificate and boost box office,(or is this just a DVD certification)Is it coincidence that both films are British directors or is it a general trend that British/European films are usually released in America as Not Rated?


    I don't know the American rating system, but I would first ask - is it very effective? Is it necessary to get an MPAA rating to have a film shown in a major theater? Does it hinder the film's chances of being screened? Or does a State rating system have more influence?



    Would any of our cousins across the pond care to comment?



    Steve

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: Albania
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    If a film doesn't have an MPAA rating, that automatically condemns it to an arthouse ghetto and restricts its advertising, as many major newspapers and magazines won't publicise non-MPAA-approved films and most major cinema chains won't touch them.



    But if it's a low-profile British or foreign-language film on a limited distribution/marketing budget, this may not be a problem - and given the well-documented eccentricities of the MPAA, there's a strong argument in favour of not bothering to get a rating.



    It certainly doesn't seem to have hurt A Room with a View, which was released unrated because the nude bathing scene would almost certainly have given the MPAA a collective conniption - they're notoriously prudish about frontal male nudity, even if it's in a completely and obviously non-sexual context such as this one. I'm not sure how extensive the release was, but it garnered a fair number of Oscar nominations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    I don't know the American rating system, but I would first ask - is it very effective? Is it necessary to get an MPAA rating to have a film shown in a major theater? Does it hinder the film's chances of being screened? Or does a State rating system have more influence?



    Would any of our cousins across the pond care to comment?



    Steve








    The MPAA rating system seems effective in helping parents know what films their kids shouldn't see, but it goes beyond its apparent purpose of warning viewers of unsuitable or traumatic content. Its function seems to be to help distributors determine their target market, and to reassure sponsors that the film will reach its target audience and that the content of the movie won't involve the distributors or sponsors in any controversy. Still, a production company can team up with the right sponsors and push through a challenging film; I think a lot depends on the political climate ("Brokeback Mountain", for instance, should've been doomed to be a tiny arthouse movie but became a huge success.). I'm not an expert, but it seems that any film that doesn't originate from the blockbuster-making machine in Hollywood will have more obstacles to finding funding and distribution, whether it is a foreign film, or an independent film from any country.



    Ther is an informative article about this problem at:

    indiewire



    I don't believe, although I may be mistaken, that this affected the distribution of "Man who Fell to Earth" when it was originally released, since the 70's in the States were a time of great freedom for filmmakers (with movies like M*A*S*H and Catch-22 being released).



    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheeky Bob
    If a film doesn't have an MPAA rating, that automatically condemns it to an arthouse ghetto and restricts its advertising, as many major newspapers and magazines won't publicise non-MPAA-approved films and most major cinema chains won't touch them.



    But if it's a low-profile British or foreign-language film on a limited distribution/marketing budget, this may not be a problem - and given the well-documented eccentricities of the MPAA, there's a strong argument in favour of not bothering to get a rating.



    It certainly doesn't seem to have hurt A Room with a View, which was released unrated because the nude bathing scene would almost certainly have given the MPAA a collective conniption - they're notoriously prudish about frontal male nudity, even if it's in a completely and obviously non-sexual context such as this one. I'm not sure how extensive the release was, but it garnered a fair number of Oscar nominations.


    ...and what he said.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: Albania
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    Incidentally, it's worth noting that we have a similarly voluntary system in Britain - at least as far as theatrical releases are concerned. Contrary to what they may like you to believe, you don't actually need BBFC approval to show a film theatrically, provided the relevant local authority is OK about it - that's why cinemas like the ICA and NFT routinely show non-BBFC-approved films, because they've reached an understanding with Westminster and Lambeth councils.



    Where we differ radically from the US, though, is with video, as the 1984 Video Recordings Act requires all videos to be vetted by the BBFC (bar a few exceptions such as non-contentious documentaries or music videos) - whereas in the US you can release videos without MPAA approval provided you don't mind the economic/distribution sanctions that will be the inevitable result.

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    name='Cheeky Bob']... whereas in the US you can release videos without MPAA approval provided you don't mind the economic/distribution sanctions that will be the inevitable result.


    Yes, I've seen movies at the video store that have stickers saying "Unrated Version!", presumably trying to lure viewers who are looking for even more sex and violence!

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