GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new study released last month says that while Hollywood produced 17 times more R-rated movies than G-rated films between 1988 and 1997, the G movies generated eight times more gross profit than the R's.
The average G-rated film also produced a 78% greater rate of return on investment than the average R film, according to the study commissioned by the Dove Foundation here. Study data was compiled by Kagan Media Appraisals, Carmel, Calif., and analyzed by economists at the Seidman School of Business at Grand Valley State University here.
Since the inception of the Motion Picture Association of America rating system in 1966, almost 60% of the films released have been R-rated, the study points out. The study looked at 2,380 films released on more than 800 screens between Jan. 1, 1988, and Dec. 31, 1997.
"We are not suggesting censorship. We are not suggesting restraint," said Dick Rolfe, managing director of the Dove Foundation. "What we are suggesting is proportionality. If G-rated movies are eight times more profitable than R-rated films, then why is it that Hollywood produced 17 times more R-rated films than G? There's a proportion problem here."
Dove is not opposed to good R movies, said Rolfe, citing such films as "Schindler's List," "Amistad" and "Saving Private Ryan" as examples. "Those are great R-rated films. We are not opposed to R-rated movies per se. We are saying there is a disproportionate share of R-rated movies being made. Everyone would benefit -- the studios, the stockholders and the supermarkets -- if Hollywood would learn how to make good action-adventures, comedies and dramas, without all of the gratuitous content," he said.
Rolfe also noted that successful films like the "Star Wars Trilogy" and "Star Trek Insurrection" were rated PG. "That flies in the face of this conventional wisdom that you have got to have sex, violence and profanity in order to make a good action film," he said.
These results should be good news for supermarkets, with their family-friendly image, Rolfe said. "If Hollywood follows the money trail and produces more action-adventures, comedies, dramas and mysteries that are suitable for all members of the family, then the supermarkets will be able to provide a bigger inventory of titles that are family-friendly," he said.
In commenting on the study's findings, newspaper and TV film critic Michael Medved pointed out that last year the movie business witnessed "a dazzling array of animated films," such as "Mulan," "The Rugrats Movie," "Antz," "A Bug's Life" and "The Prince of Egypt." These films, domestically, earned in excess of $70 million each, he said. "This record shatters an unwritten rule of Hollywood, which had previously suggested that each year only one G-rated cartoon, invariably produced by Disney studios, could draw substantial audiences to the theaters. The enthusiastic reception for each of the animated 'big five' (three of them non-Disney titles) demonstrated that the demand for this sort of entertainment is deeper and broader than previously assumed," Medved said.
"If corporate Hollywood's objective is to make money for its stockholders, it should have no problem convincing its creative partners to redirect their efforts from R to G and PG films, and give the public more of what it wants -- for profit's sake," said Rolfe.