Earlier this spring at CinemaCon 2013, the large annual convention of theater owners, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, said:
“If exhibitors could make one recommendation to our studio partners, it would be make more family titles and fewer R-rated movies. Only two R-rated movies made the top twenty last year, even though more R-rated movies were distributed than any other rating category.”
Addressing a 12 percent decline in box office as of April, Fithian said:
“The product selection in the first part of 2013 was dismal. During early 2012, we had more G, more PG, and more PG-13 rated movies than we had in 2013. Our numbers suffered this year under the weight of too many R-rated movies.”
This isn’t a new problem.
Fithian’s points are backed by more than 21 years of box office research by Movieguide®. Every year at the Movieguide® Faith & Values Awards in February, Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr presents his Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry. This comprehensive analysis of the movie box office, including home video sales, goes into detail about what audiences want and are not getting enough of in their movie viewing.
From 1995 to 2012, the MPAA has rated 52 percent of movies R. Those movies have generated less than 15 percent of all box office. Since 1995, G-rated movies average more than twice the box office of R-rated movies. Furthermore, family movies (which includes movies rated PG) sell up to five times more DVDs and offer opportunities for merchandise and theme parks that R-rated movies don’t.
In addition, theaters make the majority of their profits from concession sales. Who can take children to the movies without stopping at the concession stand?
Movieguide® measures the box office take of movies with different worldviews and specific content. The sweet spot in box office is a great story well-told, with a good moral lesson, a positive worldview, spiritually uplifting and inspiring content honoring biblical faith, and minimal objectionable content, like vulgarity, sex, and drugs. It also helps that a movie be Pro-American, patriotic, pro-liberty, anti-socialist, and pro-capitalist.
Dr. Baehr offers filmmaking seminars entitled “How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul),” based on his book by the same name. These classes detail both how to offer a great story well told and how to make the kinds of movies John Fithian and the theater owners – and the public – are demanding.
Quality, morally uplifting, faith-filled movies aimed at broad audiences are good for studios, good for theaters, and good for society.
Surveys show that most parents are deeply concerned about the moral content of the movies and television their children are watching. They want more movies that encourage good behavior in their children.
John Fithian’s above remarks aren’t just the views of theater owners; they also represent the views of the vast majority of moviegoers.