Aug 16, 2022 - Economy

R-rated genre struggling at the box office

Market share of MPAA movie ratings
Note: G rating data not available in 2022; Data: The Numbers; Chart: Axios Visuals

So far in 2022, the percentage of box office revenue that has gone toward R-rated films is the lowest it's been in over 25 years.

Why it matters: R-rated films across genres like drama and romance are increasingly being pushed to at-home streaming, while more family-friendly action and adventure franchises continue to dominate theaters.

The big picture: "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," said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

  • "However, some of the best movies of all time have benefitted from wearing the R rating as a badge of honor and in fact many horror (and action) films benefit from this harder-edged designation, which can often lead to greater success for these films," he said.

This year's box office, while up significantly from this point last year, is still down more than 30% compared to 2019.

  • The pandemic forced many indie films, which are more likely to be rated R, out of the theatrical business.

By the numbers: The vast majority of movies that hit theaters over the past two years were PG-13, according to data from The Numbers.

  • Every movie that grossed over $100 million in 2021 was rated PG-13.
  • So far this year, every movie that has grossed over $100 million has been PG-13 with the exception of two G-rated movies: "Minions: The Rise of Gru" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" and one R-rated film, "Nope."

Yes, but: Several notable R-rated $100 million+ domestic performers have historically come out in August, Dergarabedian said.

  • "I call it the punk rock month for movies," he said, referring to releases like "District 9," "Superbad" and "Inglourious Basterds."
  • "It seems to be the month where you get the edgier summer fare."

What's next: Sony’s "Bullet Train," which debuted earlier this month with an R rating, has grossed over $50 million domestically.

  • Idris Elba's survival thriller "Beast" debuts Friday with an R rating.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional quotes from Paul Dergarabedian about the R rating.

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