Ups and Downs in Recent Movie Trends by Dick Rolfe, CEO – The Dove Foundation®
I have been watching with interest a new growth trend inside our nation’s movie theaters. I’m not referring to an increase in couples necking during a movie, but to a noticeable increase in the number of PG-13 and R-rated movies being released into the theaters of late. In 2006, Hollywood released 112 PG-13 movies which accounted for 29% of all movies that year. Compare that to 2007 YTD which released 116 PG-13 movies or 32% of this year’s total. Revenues are trending in the opposite direction, however. The average box office revenue for a PG-13 movie in 2006 was $39.2 million, compared with $33.7 million so far this year. G-rated films fared much better during the same period.
The 12 G-rated films in 2006 accounted for only 3% of the movies released that year. And yet, the combined revenue of these pictures made up over 6% of the total box office revenue. This is because the average G-rated movie made $48 million. (These numbers are gross box office revenues and do not reflect profits, which consistently skew even more heavily in favor of G and PG films.)
One would expect that with such encouraging numbers on the family-friendly side of the ledger, Hollywood would go for the gold and step up production of the most profitable categories (G-and PG-rated). Such was not the case. During the same period Hollywood released 30% more R-rated movies than in the previous year and had a 100% growth in NC-17 movies (from none to 2).
Hollywood also cut the number of G-rated films for 2007 by a whopping 21% over 2006 (from 12 to 8). The number of PG movies – the second most profitable category next to G – dropped from 2006 to 2007 by 2.5%. All this goes to prove that conventional wisdom in Hollywood is not necessarily conventional.
While I was addressing a college media class, a student asked if the studios release so many PG-13 and R-rated movies because there is a larger audience for that type of entertainment. I replied that I believe the entertainment industry has, perhaps unintentionally, created a “loyal” audience of movie-goers who favor violent, sex-driven stories by filling the screens with a disproportionate number of these films. Adult-oriented movies are not created with the family audience in mind. Pumping out so many brutally bloody, sexy, profane movies sends an indelible message to most parents and discriminating adults that they are not welcome in the theaters – except on holidays.
During this Thanksgiving holiday, six movies that were awarded the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal were among the top ten earners at the box office – Enchanted, Dan in Real Life, August Rush, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and Fred Claus.
The quality of G and PG movies is improving greatly. Dove is working behind the scenes, advising filmmakers who are interested in courting the family market about what content issues might offend or appeal to this huge mainstream audience.
Many studies, including our own 2005 Film Profitability Study, clearly point out that the broader the ratings category, the more profitable the movie. We should not be surprised to see more toned down movies coming soon, especially if filmmakers want to maximize their investments by reaching the widest possible audience base.
Forewarned is forearmed. Before choosing your entertainment options, read Dove’s movie and DVD reviews online at www.dove.org. It’s always better to be prepared before plunking down your money at the local theater or video store.
The Dove Foundation® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment. We are supported primarily by donations from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction. All donations are tax deductible.