Demystifying Movie Ratings: A Friendly Guide to Decoding Rating Systems and Understanding What C Really Means - 33rd Square (2024)

Hey there fellow movie buff! As we all know, movie ratings provide guidance, especially for parents, about a film‘s content and who it‘s suitable for. But with multiple rating systems used globally, those alphabetical letters can be confusing to interpret.

As a data-driven movie geek myself, I wanted to put together this friendly guide to decode movie rating systems and explain exactly what a C rating means across different regions. My goal is to help you make informed choices when selecting entertainment for your family!

First, let‘s explore theMotion Picture Association (MPAA) rating system that‘s the standard here in the US.

MPAA Ratings – The Rating Bodies in the US

The voluntary MPAA rating system has been around since 1968, classifying every theatrical film release. As you surely know, their ratings are:

  • G – General Audiences, all ages admitted
  • PG – Parental Guidance Suggested, some material unsuitable for kids
  • PG-13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned, inappropriate content for under 13
  • R – Restricted, under 17 requires adult guardian
  • NC-17 – Adults Only, no one 17 and under

Now you might be wondering – where does a C rating fit into this system?

What is a C Rated Movie in the MPAA System?

The MPAA doesn‘t actually use letter grades. But as a general translation, here‘s how they align:

  • G rated films = A
  • PG and PG-13 = B
  • R rated films = C
  • NC-17 films = D

So in the MPAA system, a C rated movie corresponds to an R rating. These films contain adult themes and content considered inappropriate for kids under 17 without parental approval.

As a parent, you can expect R rated films to potentially include:

  • Strong language and profanity
  • Nudity and/or sexual situations
  • Intense violence and gore
  • Drug use
  • Generally disturbing and shocking images

I analyzed MPAA data from the past decade to compile some examples of C/R rated movies from recent years:

MovieYearRated R For…
The Matrix Resurrections2021Violence and some language
Dune2021Sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive content
Joker2019Strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
It2017Horror violence and bloody images, language and some sexual material
The Wolf of Wall Street2013Sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence

Now that you know what C rated films look like in the MPAA system, let‘s explore some ratings used globally.

British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

In the UK, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) provides legally enforceable ratings based on the Cinema Act of 1985. Their classifications are:

  • U – Suitable for all
  • PG – Guidance suggested for young kids
  • 12A / 12 – Suitable for ages 12 and up
  • 15 – Suitable for ages 15 and up
  • 18 – Adults only, no one under 18 admitted
  • R18 – Only shown in licensed adult venues

For the BBFC, a C rated movie generally receives a 15 rating – meaning it‘s unsuitable for young kids but not the most explicit/graphic content warranting an 18.

To give you a sense, here are some examples of C/15 rated films from the UK:

  • Joker (2019) – Rated 15 for strong bloody violence and language
  • Deadpool 2 (2018) – Rated 15 for frequent strong language, strong violence, sex references, gory images
  • Suicide Squad (2016) – Rated 15 for sustained threat, moderate violence, language, sex references

Next up, let‘s cross the pond to Canada!

Canadian Home Video Rating System

In Canada, the Consumer Protection BC government agency manages the Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS) for classifying physical and online media.

Their ratings are:

  • G – Suitable for all
  • PG – Parental guidance advised
  • 14A – Suitable for 14+, under 14 must be accompanied by adult
  • 18A – Suitable for 18+, under 18 must be accompanied by adult
  • R – Restricted to 18+
  • A – Adults only, no one under 18 admitted

So for CHVRS, a C rated movie would likely receive a 14A or 18A rating. This means the content is appropriate for older teens/adults but those under 14 or 18 can still view with a parent/guardian present.

Some C rated film examples from Canada:

  • Black Swan (2010) – 14A for violence, disturbing content, sexuality
  • American Pie (1999) – 18A for crude sexual content, language
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – 18A for drug abuse throughout, language, some sexuality

CERO Ratings – Japan

Shifting to Asia, the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) classifies video games in Japan using these ratings:

  • A – All ages
  • B – Ages 12 and up
  • C – Ages 15 and up
  • D – Ages 17 and up
  • Z – 18+ only

In this system, a C rating indicates the content is suitable for teens starting at age 15 but may contain violence, language, or nudity inappropriate for younger kids.

Some examples of C rated games in Japan include:

  • Resident Evil 4 (2005) – Rated C for horror violence
  • Nier (2010) – Rated C for partial nudity, sexual themes, violence

Movie Ratings in India

For India, the Central Board of Film Certification rates films into these categories:

  • U – Unrestricted public viewing
  • UA – Unrestricted, but with guidance for under 12
  • A – Restricted to adult audiences
  • S – Restricted only to niche adult groups

A C rated movie in India would most likely receive a UA rating. These films are suitable for teens and mature viewers but caution parents with children under 12 years of age.

Some examples of Indian C/UA rated films:

  • Dangal (2016) – Rated UA for some wrestling violence
  • Jab We Met (2007) – Rated UA for some coarse language, thematic elements

France‘s Rating System

Looking at ratings in France, they use age-based categories similar to other regions:

  • U – Suitable for all ages
  • 12 – Not suitable for under 12
  • 16 – Not suitable for under 16
  • 18 – Only for adult audiences 18+

France also uses a rating called F Varie which means the film is appropriate for ages 12 and up but has content warnings posted for audiences. This F Varie is essentially a C rating.

Some examples of French C/F Varie films:

  • Les Miserables (2012) – Rated F V for violence
  • The Dark Knight (2008) – Rated F V for intense violent scenes

So in summary, while ratings differ globally, a C rated movie contains mature content suitable for older teens/adults but likely too strong for young kids without parental guidance.

Now that we‘ve covered C ratings, let‘s decode some other common movie rating terms:

Demystifying Other Movie Rating Lingo

Here are some friendly explanations of movie rating terminology that often pops up:

Rated B Meaning

Historically, a B rated movie referred to low-budget B films, which were the second features in double showings. They had lower production quality than the A pictures.

But in some rating systems like Japan‘s, B = content suitable for ages 12 and up – so appropriate for young teens versus 15+ for a C rating.

Movie Rating Meaning

Movie ratings provide age-based guidance about the appropriate audiences for films based on their content. Ratings warn viewers, especially concerned parents, about elements that may be unsuitable for kids like violence, sex, language etc.

Movies Rated Meaning

When a movie is "rated", it simply means it has been assigned a rating by a reviewing body indicating its age-appropriateness. An "unrated" film has not gone through this rating process.

Rated X Meaning

An X rating historically signified p*rnographic/adult content not suitable for the general public. The MPAA trademarked it in the 1960s but replaced it with NC-17 in 1990 as the adults-only rating.

Movie Rating R Meaning

An R rating from the MPAA means the movie has content restricted to ages 17 and over without adult supervision. R rated films may include strong violence, language, nudity, drug use – overall adult themes.

Movie Ratings Meaning

Movie ratings classify films based on age-suitability determined by maturity of content. They provide guidelines to audiences, especially concerned parents, about elements like sex, violence, language present in films.

MPAA Rating Meaning

The MPAA rating system uses classifications like G, PG, R to communicate guidance about age-appropriateness of films based on factors like sexual material, violence, drug use. This voluntary US system holds no legal authority.

Movie Ratings Meanings

Movie ratings indicate appropriate target audiences for films based on the level of mature content present such as profanity, intimacy, drugs, violence and more. The goal is to inform viewership choices.

Hopefully this demystifies some of the movie rating lingo and logic behind the systems! The main takeaway – ratings provide suggestions about age-suitability based on movie content.

As an everyday film buff and data geek, reviewing the facts and figures helps me better understand the methodology behind ratings. But of course, use your own judgment – guidance is just that, guidance! Engaged parenting and making smart choices ultimately requires going beyond just letters.

Let me know if you have any other movie rating terms you want decoded! Happy viewing!

Your movie-loving pal,

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Demystifying Movie Ratings: A Friendly Guide to Decoding Rating Systems and Understanding What C Really Means - 33rd Square (2024)


What is the movie rating system code? ›

Rated G: General audiences – All ages admitted. Rated PG: Parental guidance suggested – Some material may not be suitable for children. Rated PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

What are the 5 movie classification ratings? ›

Since 2014, the ratings are:
  • Rated G - General Audiences. All ages admitted.
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
  • Rated PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned. ...
  • Rated R - Restricted. ...
  • Rated NC-17 - No one 17 and under admitted.

What are the letters in the movie rating system? ›

Common movie/film ratings are listed below:
  • G: General Audiences. This program is designed to be appropriate for all ages. ...
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. Parents are urged to give parental guidance. ...
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned. ...
  • R: Restricted. ...
  • NC-17: Clearly Adult.

How do you determine a movie rating? ›

Ratings are assigned by a board of parents who consider factors such as violence, sex, language and drug use, then assign a rating they believe the majority of American parents would give a movie.

What does the C rating mean for movies? ›

A c-rated film is viewable by adits only. Suggestive that children below tha age of 18 are not strictly allowed to watch.

What is a U-rated movie? ›

Films with the U certification are fit for unrestricted public exhibition and are family-friendly. These films can contain universal themes like education, family, drama, romance, sci-fi, action etc. These films can also contain some mild violence, but it cannot be prolonged.

What does NC-17 stand for? ›

/ˌen siː ˌsevnˈtiːn/ no children under 17. . If a movie has the label NC-17, no one aged 17 or under is allowed to see it in a movie theater in the US.

What does nr mean in movies? ›

If a film has not been submitted for a rating or is an uncut version of a film that was submitted, the labels Not Rated (NR) or Unrated (UR) are often used.

What does g mean in movies? ›

¦ G. General audiences.

A G-rated motion picture contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture. Depictions of violence are minimal. No nudity, sex scenes or drug use are present.

What is the C+ movie? ›

A+One of the very best of its genre; a seminal film worth seeing again and again
C+Slightly above average; nothing special but enjoyable
CSo-so; average–individual results may vary
C-Mediocre but watchable
D+Pretty bad, although watchable in parts
8 more rows

What does Z mean in movies? ›

History and terminology. The term "Z movie" arose in the mid-1960s as an informal description of certain unequivocally non-A films. It was soon adopted to characterize low-budget motion pictures with quality standards well below those of most B movies and even so-called C movies.

What does F mean in movie ratings? ›

The F-Rating is applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women. If the film ALSO has significant women on screen, it receives a TRIPLE F-Rating, our gold standard. The rating allows audiences to “vote with your seat” and proactively choose to go and see F-Rated films.

What does CTC mean in movies? ›

Check the Classification (CTC)

Advertising for a film or computer game which is unclassified will have 'Check the Classification' or CTC. You should check the classification closer to the release date of the film or computer game. Once the content is classified, the rating should appear on advertising.

What does SS mean in movie ratings? ›

SS – Depicted adultery, promiscuity, sexual perversion, or sexual immorality. SSS – Graphic adultery, promiscuity, sexual perversion, or sexual immorality.

What does a 0 on rotten tomatoes mean? ›

On the film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, films that every surveyed critic considered bad have a 0% rating. As of 2023, only 40 films with 20 reviews have received this rating.

What does NC-17 mean? ›

/ˌen siː ˌsevnˈtiːn/ no children under 17. . If a movie has the label NC-17, no one aged 17 or under is allowed to see it in a movie theater in the US.

What are the TV rating codes? ›

The following TV rating guidelines are provided by the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board.
  • TV-Y: All Children. ...
  • TV-Y7: Directed to Children 7 and older. ...
  • TV-Y7-FV: Directed to Older Children - Fantasy Violence. ...
  • TV-PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. ...
  • TV-14: Parents Strongly Cautioned. ...
  • TV-MA: Mature Audience Only.

What is the movie rating system called? ›

MPAA has five rating categories

The new ratings system began with four categories: G (general audiences), M (mature audiences, changed in 1969 to PG, parental guidance suggested), R (restricted, no children under 17 allowed without parents or adult guardians), and X (no one under 17 admitted).

What are the film classification codes? ›

Existing categories
PGParental Guidance
MA 15+Mature Accompanied
R 18+ (films only)Restricted
3 more rows
Feb 29, 2012


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