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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » R ratings and under 17? (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: R ratings and under 17?
Andy Bundy
Film Handler

Posts: 9
From: New Bremen, Ohio, USA
Registered: Jul 2016


 - posted 11-17-2017 10:48 PM      Profile for Andy Bundy   Author's Homepage   Email Andy Bundy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello all,

So I'm wondering about the gray area of movie ratings. At my theater tonight, my manager let in two under 17 unaccompanied girls to see an R rated film. She was thinking I was overreacting when I objected to them being admitted. Am I in the wrong on this? What are the repercussions for knowingly allowing underage kids into R rated films without parents?

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 11-18-2017 09:05 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It depends on the licensing jurisdiction, and whether they find out about it. 17-year olds vary from those who could sit through I Spit on Your Grave without batting an eyelid, to those who would be traumatized by The Lego Movie (and not just because of how bad it is). My gut feeling would be that if a 17-year old is so interested in a particular movie that they're willing to make the effort to go to a theater to see it, they're probably well aware of what they're going to see, and the chances of it doing them any harm are minimal.

However, some cities and other licensing authorities have a reputation for playing things totally by the book, and will send some fake customers in to check up on you once in a while. It's a judgement call based on knowing your town and knowing your audience.

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 11-18-2017 10:00 AM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How far under 17 were they? If they were teenagers, there's probably no problem...but if they're younger than that, you could get complaints from the OTHER moviegoers, especially if they're playing with their phones throughout the movie.

But legally? Probably no issue, unless the locality has more restrictive laws.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-18-2017 11:20 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The ratings are only a SUGGESTION from the lobbying arm of the motion picture industry (the MPAA). The ratings are copyrighted, so there are no laws that the MPAA will allow to be attached to them. Legally speaking, if you let a 16 year old into a movie with her parents, you are just as liable if you let her in unaccompanied. The movie would have to be legally adjudicated to be obscene for minors, which requires arrests and lawyers and judges etc.

So, what Mike says. Legally you have nothing to worry about.

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Andy Bundy
Film Handler

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From: New Bremen, Ohio, USA
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 - posted 11-18-2017 11:45 AM      Profile for Andy Bundy   Author's Homepage   Email Andy Bundy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you all for your responses. Growing up, it was always inferred that it was a hard and fast rule. I guess I never thought to look into whether it's a law or not. I know we have our NATO membership sticker that says "We card for R and NC-17" so I figured it's on the same lines as carding for alcohol sales.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

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From: Erie, Pennsylvania
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 - posted 11-18-2017 12:27 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Martin McCaffery
Legally you have nothing to worry about.
Statutorily, you have nothing to worry about.

Although MPAA Ratings have no force of law, the minor's parents can still sue the theater.

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Harold Hallikainen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Denver, CO, USA
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 11-18-2017 01:04 PM      Profile for Harold Hallikainen   Author's Homepage   Email Harold Hallikainen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The rating system has an interesting history. I recently read a book (I think it's a dramatization of actual events) about early Hollywood ("Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood," William J. Mann) that had quite a bit about the establishment of the Motion Picture Production code (Hays code) by the industry to avoid the federal government creating laws regarding content. The Hays code, established in 1930, was replaced by the current MPAA code in 1968. It's interesting to watch pre-Hays movies.

Wikipedia has a good article on the MPAA code at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Association_of_America_film_rating_system#Replacement_of_Hays_Code .

An article on the Hays code is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_Picture_Production_Code .

Harold

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 11-18-2017 01:14 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
TCM has published several DVD collections of infamous pre-Code movies (the ones that provoked the industry into coming up with the Production Code in the first place). Baby Face is a classic example, and hilarious (despite quite a morally conservative ending).

The British censorship system has an even more bizarre back story. Its origins are in safety legislation designed to keep audiences safe from nitrate fires. Local authorities (cities and counties) were given the power to license cinemas (or not) depending, the lawmakers intended, on whether they were safe or not. But these authorities quickly started to use that power to censor films, by threatening to pull the licenses of any cinema that showed movies they disapproved of.

The industry responded by creating the British Board of Film Censors in 1912 - a completely private company that had no legal power whatsoever until 1984. Their certificates were purely advisory, but almost all local authorities quickly attached a condition to their licenses stating that cinemas could only play films that the BBFC had passed, and to the age groups it had passed them for. For cinema exhibition, that remains the case to this day, though in the 1980s the BBFC was given direct legally binding powers over "video recordings" (which today includes games and other digital media).

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 11-18-2017 01:51 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Randy Stankey
Although MPAA Ratings have no force of law, the minor's parents can still sue the theater.
And lose [Wink]

Yeah, it would be expensive to both parties, and people have sued for less. As the ratings claim to be an advisory for parents, the easy counter argument is that what movies the kids go to is between them and their mommy. As long as the kids behave, it is none of the theatre business.

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Randy Stankey
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From: Erie, Pennsylvania
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 - posted 11-18-2017 03:02 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Understood.

My point was about being dragged into a lawsuit and the amount of trouble that would arise from it.

A potential plaintiff would have to prove that the theater had a duty to act, that the theater breached that duty and that such a breach caused harm.

Since MPAA ratings have no force of law, the matter of duty is in a gray area.
Since the matter of duty is undefined, it would be hard to prove a breach of such duty.
The concept of harm is a completely unknown for many reasons.

Therefore, such a lawsuit would be a big, hairy mess... something that nobody would want to deal with. It would be best to avoid the problem in the first place.

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Donald Brown
Expert Film Handler

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From: Lincoln, DE
Registered: Sep 2009


 - posted 11-18-2017 03:35 PM      Profile for Donald Brown   Email Donald Brown   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I recall attempting to enter the Airport Cinemas in Hyannis, Massachusetts to watch "The Last American Virgin", which was rated R, when I was in my late teens or early twenties. I was refused admission when I couldn't produce proof of age. Subsequently, I wrote a letter to the local Better Business Bureau outlining my experience. Their reply stated that admission requirements were at the discretion of the theatre's management and that I had no recourse through the BBB with my complaint.
As time passes, there are increasingly less teens who attend the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre, which I operate in central Maine, and those who do enter without adult supervision are all old enough to drive.

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Jonathan Goeldner
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From: Washington, District of Columbia
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 - posted 11-18-2017 05:43 PM      Profile for Jonathan Goeldner   Email Jonathan Goeldner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
oh this recalls the glory days of my teens and the 80's when a number of movies mostly horror didn't get an MPAA rating but went with the generic - 'No One Under 17 admitted' - theaters in DC were so lax, I remember seeing 'Day of the Dead', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2', 'ReAnimator', 'Demons' et al, without a single theater carding and realizing it was a ticket sale.

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Justin Hamaker
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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 11-18-2017 09:07 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Realistically the enforcement of the MPAA ratings is up to the individual theatre - or company. The ratings system is completely voluntary and theatres have no legal obligation to enforce the ratings. Because the MPAA is not connected with movie theatres, they wouldn't even have a recourse against a theatre if they choose not to enforce the ratings.

Traditionally the MPAA has purposely left the definition of each rating somewhat vague to avoid any specific interpretation of what "Parental Guardian" means. This means a theatre could reasonably argue that simply giving the teen permission to go to the theatre constitutes "accompanying parent or adult guardian".

One of the problems with the ratings today is the definition of what content leads to a given rating has failed to keep up with the times. We're trying to limit kids going to R rated movies, but these kids have virtually unlimited access to similar content through Netflix, cable/satellite, and other viewing options. And some of the content which leads to a given rating really isn't as objectionable as it was 20-30 years ago.

My theatre company has always had a bit of a middle of the road policy on the ratings. For R rated movies we require anyone under the age of 17 - or without an id - have their parent with them to buy their tickets. The parents only have to stay with them if the person is under high school age.

Over the years this has become increasingly contentious both with teens and parents. It's virtually unheard of to have a parent say they appreciate us not admitting their teen. For that matter it's rare to have a parent be grateful when they try to take a young kid to an R rated movies. The only people who seem to care are the senior citizens who are glad we are not letting kids see the movie. That's not to say parents aren't making this decision at home and trusting their kids to obey their wishes. It's just not happening at the theatre.

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Martin McCaffery
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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 11-18-2017 09:34 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
oh this recalls the glory days of my teens and the 80's when a number of movies mostly horror didn't get an MPAA rating but went with the generic - 'No One Under 17 admitted' - theaters in DC were so lax,
Sounds like you just missed the Exorcist. I was a senior in HS then (in Springfield, VA). Those were the days of exclusive engagements and it had an exclusive run at a downtown DC theatre. Anyway, the DC city council decided that no one under 17 (or 18, I forget) would be allowed in to see The Exorcist, despite it's R rating. So, of course, lines were around the block. And when it finally opened in the burbs, it was a just plain R rating and everyone was going to it.
Not sure if it was playing at the theatre I was an usher at, or another in the chain, but I know I saw it without a parent.
And yeah, saw my first "X" movies in DC with no problem (Performance and the original release of A Clockwork Orange).

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 11-18-2017 10:25 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Exit to Eden was banned in Saskatchewan when it first came out because of a scene where a woman was spanking a man with a hairbrush.

Sexual Violence. Not Allowed.

After a great outcry the banning was lifted a week or so later and the movie was classified as Restricted. After that Saskatchewan was the only place in the world where Exit to Eden made a killing. I remember selling tickets and the line-ups were out of this world. I remember one old lady who came in and said, "Is this the movie that they banned?" I said yes, and she said, "Oh good" as she put her money on the counter. [Smile]

I never saw her again after that, before or since.

I was told that, before they un-banned it, one theatre chain that had theatres in both Saskatchewan and Alberta was organizing bus tours to take people to the Alberta theatres to see it.

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