Ad 80

The Hollywood Reporter, Variety
Date of first publication: 
If smoking is essential to your film, stand up and take the R-rating.
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If smoking is essential to your film, stand up and take the R-rating. Producers of comic book movies seem to think flying saucers and cigarettes go together. Other producers appear to be convinced that any melodrama set before 2005 is a solemn opportunity to show people chain smoking. Do you believe either one of these things? Then stand up for what you believe. Take the R-rating. Example #1: Cowboys & Aliens was released by Universal, a studio that presumes its kid-rated movies will be smokefree. Yet Universal suspended its standard for this PG-13 Western-Scifi mashup. Reliance and Relativity provided most of the financing. Did they override Universal? Who else thought it was absolutely vital to show fourteen-year-olds a cowboy hero smoking? Example #2: Last week, The Help (PG-13, backed by Reliance and Imagenation Abu Dhabi) derailed Disney’s smokefree track record. Set fifty years ago in Mississippi, The Help indulges in what The Hollywood Reporter called “ubiquitous” smoking. Whatever the Jackson Junior League might really have been up to in 1962, smoking rates among lower-income people in Mississippi today are among the nation’s highest. It doesn’t help that Mississippi offers film producers $20 million a year to make movies like The Help — twice as much money as the state invests in tobacco prevention. Display your integrity. Other major studios have much worse records than Universal (Comcast) and Disney (see table). But if even the major studios that have explicit policies to discourage smoking in their youth-rated movies can’t or won’t consistently protect young audiences, an industry wide R-rating is the only thing that can. If you’re a producer, it’s unrealistic to claim that your film with smoking is uniquely harmless. And testing your clout by insisting on smoking in a film is just plain callous. If smoking is essential to your movie, then stand up and take an “R.” If the smoking’s not so important, why include it at all? [Table:] Kid-rated movies with tobacco, 2011 In-theater tobacco impressions (to 8/17) Hanna Comcast (Focus) PG-13 10,000,000 Larry Crowne Comcast (Playtone) PG-13 249,000,000 Cowboys & Aliens Comcast (Dreamworks/ Relativity/Imagine) PG-13 174,000,000 I Am Number Four Disney (DreamWorks) PG-13 13,000,000 The Help Disney (DreamWorks) PG-13 693,000,000 Madea’s Big Happy Family Lionsgate (Tyler Perry) PG-13 13,000,000 Water for Elephants News Corp. (Fox 2000) PG-13 930,000,000 X-Men: First Class News Corp. (Marvel) PG-13 705,000,000 Monte Carlo News Corp. (Walden) PG 3,000,000 Limitless Relativity PG-13 95,000,000 Country Strong Sony PG-13 39,000,000 The Green Hornet Sony (Original) PG-13 107,000,000 Jumping the Broom Sony (Screen Gems) PG-13 36,000,000 Priest Sony (Screen Gems) PG-13 4,000,000 The Rite Time Warner (New Line) PG-13 8,000,000 Unknown Time Warner (Dark Castle) PG-13 67,000,000 Sucker Punch Time Warner (Legendary) PG-13 79,000,000 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Viacom (MTV Films) G 9,000,000 Rango Viacom (Nickelodeon) PG 909,000,000 Super 8 Viacom (Amblin) PG-13 212,000,000 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Viacom (di Bonaventura) PG-13 630,000,000 Led by Viacom (1.8 billion) and News Corp. (1.6 billion), youth-rated films delivered five billion tobacco impressions to domestic theater audiences by mid-August 2011.
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