Film Study

July 28, 2000

I have argued for years that Hollywood producers seem to have a death wish when it comes to making films. If the goal is to make money, many producers seem bent on doing just the opposite with their films.

A new study confirms that making R-rated movies is just bad business. Research by U.C. Irvine economics professor Arthur DeVany found that R-rated films are less than half as likely as PG releases to gross $25 million or more domestically. Findings also show that G, PG, and PG-13 movies all generate better revenues and profits than R-rated films.

So a prudent producer would make more G-rated films, right? Not so, only 3 percent of all the movies in DeVany’s study were rated G. More than half of the films were R-rated. The remainder were split about evenly between PG and PG-13 movies.

The study used 2015 movies released between 1985 and 1996. It turned out that R-rated films ended up being the worst in terms of box office receipts. DeVany used Jim Carey’s career as proof that R-rated movies have a harder time making a profit. His successful films include “Ace Ventura” and “The Truman Show.” These were much more financially successful than his current R-rated film “Me, Myself, and Irene.”

Syndicated film reviewer Michael Medved criticizes studios for making R-rated films full of sex, violence, and profanity. He argues that the primary motive isn’t to make money, but to impress the Hollywood culture of actors, directors, and writers.

But the best way to prove the point is to look at the list of the top domestic grossing films. Of the top ten, six are G or PG and four are PG-13. None of the top ten are R-rated films. So if Hollywood wants to make money, they need to make more family-friendly films.

I’m Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that’s my opinion.