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R-Rated Movies Struggling at Box Office: Lowest Point in 25-Plus Years, Report Shows

Michael Foust | Contributor | Friday, August 19, 2022

New data that reveals R-rated movies are at a 25-plus-year low mark in box office success should serve as a wake-up call for Hollywood studios, says a family media watchdog. The data, reported by Axios, shows the share of box office revenue by R-rated movies at its lowest point since at least 1995 – fully 27 years ago. In 2021, every Top 10 movie was rated PG-13. Additionally, every film that grossed more than $100 million that year was PG-13, too. Similarly, in 2022, every Top 10 movie has been rated PG or PG-13. The R-rated Nope is the only movie in the past two years to cross $100 million. R-rated films are increasingly being pushed to home video and bypassing theaters, Axios said.

"If the greatest chance of box office success is having a PG-13 rating, or not having an R rating, then that's where the industry really had to go if that was the primary goal," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Axios. Family media expert Melissa Henson of the Parents Television and Media Council says the data should serve as a wake-up call to studios.

"The takeaway should be that they need to increase the production of family-friendly content – films that families would enjoy watching together," Henson told Christian Headlines. "But this [report] is not new. The Dove Foundation, for example, has done studies that show that the less restrictive the rating, the more profitable the films." It's a simple case of economics, Henson said: PG and PG-13 films increase the potential audience.

"Selling five or six or seven tickets to a family is more revenue than selling one or two to just adults," said Henson, who is the PTC's Program Director. "... There seems to be this really wrongheaded assumption that adults want to see sex and gore. But adults can be entertained by something that's sweet and innocent as much as kids. Look at, for example, the success that PBS had with its recent revival of All Creatures Great and Small for Masterpiece Theater. That's been hugely successful for them. And it's very sweet and very innocent."

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A DeCuire
A DeCuire
Aug 29, 2022

That's great news even though its tied to money ultimately. Maybe it will encourage filmmakers to get off the sex and gore and switch to family movies as a whole.

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