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R-Rated Movies Account For Lowest Percentage of Box Office Revenue in Decades As Family-Friendly Movies Finish First

Photo by Felipe Bustillo via Unsplash

R-Rated Movies Account For Lowest Percentage of Box Office Revenue in Decades As Family-Friendly Movies Finish First

By Movieguide® Staff

For the past 30 years, Movieguide® has provided an annual Report to the Entertainment Industry highlighting how movies with moral, uplifting, and positive content outperform immoral, R-rated movies at the box office.

In 2020, the box office revenue hit a drought, as audiences did not want to leave their houses, and studios did not want to release blockbusters for fear of financial loss.

However, Movieguide®’s reports held true in 2020 and 2021, as family-friendly movies lifted the box office from the brink of collapse; and now, secular sources are catching on.

Moviegoers’ voices were more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic when studios and exhibitors struggled to show movies.

While there were some flops, the success of family-friendly movies early on in the pandemic gave theater chains and Hollywood a sliver of hope. From the start, it became clear that audiences would come in droves if the content met their standard.

Axios, an American news outlet, recently reported that in 2022, R-Rated movies brought in the lowest percentage of box office revenue in over 25 years.

The Numbers echoed Axios’ findings and noted that every movie to earn over $100 million in 2021 was movies rated PG-13 and below.

However, this connection between moral content and box office revenue is something Movieguide® has researched since 1993. Since then, Movieguide® has battled to help Hollywood studios and executives to see the truth about audiences and the box office.

“Since Movieguide®’s first annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry in 1993, the number of movies with morally uplifting, biblical and/or positive Christian content has more than quadrupled and the number of R-rated movies in the Top 25 Movies at the Box Office has declined from about 12 per year to only two to four each year,” Movieguide® wrote.

While Movieguide® approaches every piece of media from a Biblical worldview, even secular outlets and organizations are condemning Hollywood for turning a blind eye to their largest audience and insisting on producing excessive and immoral content each year.

In an Op-Ed published by the editorial board of Deseret News in 2010, the board found that families wanted clean movies.

“The entertainment industry is a business that, like any other, relies on profits to survive,” the board wrote in its op-ed. “Its leaders even have been fond of mouthing support for the free market, saying people should be free to watch what they want without government interference. And yet something other than a profit motive seems to be at work when it comes to the products they produce.”

“We’re not inclined to believe in nefarious conspiracy theories, but the least that can be said here is that Hollywood is out of touch with its audience,” the op-ed continued. “Perhaps this has to do with the personal tastes of industry officials and producers, many of whom live lives far different from that of the average American. By simply removing several unnecessary swear words (which hardly could be considered art), they could lower a film’s rating and earn 25 to 35 percent more in profits. That could translate into tens of millions of dollars.”

While studios are motivated by money, Movieguide®’s goal with the annual Report to the Entertainment Industry is to “redeem the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists.”

In Movieguide®’s 2021 report, Dr. Ted Baehr noted: “Our results showed first that the most family-friendly movies with no explicit, obscene content earned more than twice as much money as the least family-friendly movies with the most explicit, obscene content, $27.85 million versus only $12.36 million.”

“Also, movies with no sex and no explicit nudity made far more money at the North American box office than movies with some explicit sex and nudity or extremely explicit sex and nudity,” he added.

But the motivation for clean, morally uplifting content in the media should not be solely monetary. Dr. Ted Baehr’s books titled “The Culture Wise Family” and “The Media Wise Family” outlines the importance of protecting children from the flawed views of violence, sex, and language found in today’s media.

However, it is not Movieguide®’s hope to block all media out of fear, but follow the biblical command to train younger generations “in the way that they should go,” (Psalm 22:6), so they know how to best respond.

Movieguide® previously reported:

There are three necessary steps in teaching discernment to children:

  • Parents must teach children a Christian worldview and inform them about other worldviews and philosophies in the context of reinforcing Christian Theism.
  • Parents must prepare children to think about and reject the subtle messages of the media.
  • Parents must teach children and model a godly disciplined lifestyle.

The church must battle the prevalent secular mindset and worldview by training students to think and live biblically.

Moreover, it is not only children’s developing minds that are at risk from the media, but also the souls of non-believers and believers alike.

Movieguide® previously reported:

As entertainment and media inundate users across the globe with different ideologies, moral and immoral content, and various and contradicting worldviews, it is vital to practice media wisdom through a biblical lens.

But the responsibility for teaching and practicing media wisdom falls on every Christian, not just younger generations, and not just parents who want to protect their children “train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6).

In the battle for people’s souls, media has become one of the most important battlegrounds.

One example of these battlegrounds is the streaming giant Netflix. Netflix currently sits at 214 million subscribers, with hundreds of movies and TV shows ready to be consumed with the touch of a button.

The line of what is permissible among families and what is not is increasingly blurred by mainstream TV shows and movies.

One recent example is the Netflix series SQUID GAME. The ultra-violent show quickly became the most-watched series on the streaming platform.

Christian author Kevin DeYoung addressed the popularity of SQUID GAME in a recent article where he warns Christian viewers of compromise when it comes to what we watch.

“Some Christians will be quick to point out that the Bible is full of sex and violence. And indeed it is. But there is a world of difference between sin described honestly on a page, never with the intent to stimulate or amuse, and sin depicted on the screen with multi-million dollar budgets, real nudity, and realistic gore,” DeYoung writes. “Can we freely watch something like Squid Game and honestly give thanks to God (1 Corinthians 10:30)? Does anything with an MA rating on Netflix help us think about what is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phiippians 4:8)?”

He continues: “I dare say you could not find an orthodox Christian writer or pastor before the 20th century (or maybe prior to 1965) who would countenance a fraction of what we consider ‘moderate’ entertainment today. If they were too rigid at times, certainly we are far too relaxed—to the impoverishment of our churches and of our souls.”

As the box office continues to claw its way back to pre-pandemic normalcy, audiences’ voices on what they want to see on the big screen have never been louder.  Christians have a great opportunity to support movies that reflect the values of scripture, and champion faith, family, and freedom.

Read More: How Moral, Uplifting Movies Kept The Domestic Box Office Afloat, Again