LOS ANGELES — Theater owners have adopted new guidelines restricting the viewing of trailers for R-rated movies and strengthening policies to prevent children under 17 from seeing restricted films.
For the first time, the guidelines prohibit theaters from showing trailers advertising R-rated films before feature films rated G or PG.
The National Association of Theater Owners, with 700 members in the United States, issued the guidelines Monday.
The policy was unanimously approved at a general membership meeting held last week.
The guidelines go beyond those adopted in September by the Motion Picture Association of America.
The MPAA, which represents film studios, only urged theater owners to stop showing trailers for R-rated films before G-rated features.
The movie industry is still struggling with intense criticism stemming from a report issued by the Federal Trade Commission in September.
The report criticized the entertainment industry for marketing films, music and video games with violent and sexually explicit content to children.
Congress intensified the pressure with hearings on the report, during which the movie industry was taken to task for its response to the FTC report.
The NATO guidelines allow individual theater owners to decide whether to show a trailer for an R-rated film before a feature rated PG-13.
NATO is requiring members to examine trailers to “ensure that their tone and content are consistent with the feature film and that nothing in the trailer itself is likely to offend the audience.”
“The problem is the breadth of the R rating,” said John Fithian, president of NATO.
“We believe some R-rated films are appropriate to advertise before some PG-13-rated films and that decision is best made on a local basis. What is controversial in Texas might be viewed differently in Massachusetts.”
The NATO guidelines also require each member to appoint a senior
executive compliance officer to enforce policies restricting access to R and NC-17-rated movies.
The policy even urges members to post extra security outside theaters during the showing of “extreme R-rated films and all NC-17-rated films.”
Movie studios will be asked to defray labor costs in such circumstances, the policy states.
NATO members will also display posters explaining the ratings system in all theaters and urge newspapers to include the reasons for ratings in their movie reviews.
It will now be up to individual theater chains to adopt specific policies based on the NATO guidelines, Fithian said.
The United Artists Theatre Circuit Inc., one of the largest theater chains, will issue its policies in the next week or so, according to president and chief executive officer Kurt Hall.
“We’re taking it very, very seriously,” Hall said.
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