Hollywood studios no longer can say they make movies full of sex and violence because these films are more profitable.
Industry critics like Michael Medved have been arguing for years that it doesn't make economic sense to produce so many "R"-rated movies, which exclude the entire under-17 audience as well as a large number of adults who find them offensive.
The Monitor's annual Mega-Movie Guide (Dec. 24) noted in a chart that the average "G"-rated movie in 1998 grossed $31 million, while the average "R"-rated film pulled in only $11 million. Yet studios made 177 "R"-rated films and only 11 rated "G." Why?
Now a new report, "Profitability Study of MPAA-Rated Movies, 1988-1997," commissioned by the nonprofit Dove Foundation, really nails the evidence. It finds that during that decade Hollywood made 17 times more "R"-rated films than "G"-rated, but that the average "G"-rated film brought in eight times more revenue.
The average rate of return on a "G" film was 66 percent, "PG" 52 percent, "PG-13" 50 percent, and "R" only 27 percent. In fact, of the 25 top-earning domestic films, only two were "R"-rated, with "Beverly Hills Cop" the highest-ranked at No. 17.
Dove is sending the study to 200 top mutual- and pension-fund administrators, urging them to pressure studios to move in a more profitable direction.
More information on the 35-page report (it can be purchased for $10 online) is at www.dove.org. Or write or call The Dove Foundation at 4521 Broadmoor SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, (616) 541-5000 or 800-968-8437.
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