A study commissioned by a group that encourages the production of family friendly movies found that G-rated movies are more profitable than R-rated films, yet far more of the racier films get made.
The study, released Tuesday by The Dove Foundation (search), showed that the average G-rated flick was 11 times more profitable than its R-rated counterpart, but the film industry made more than 12 times as many R-rated as G-rated movies from 1989-2003.
The study examined the costs and revenues associated with the 200 most widely distributed films released by major Hollywood studios each year the 15-year period. All the figures used were limited to the first two years of each movie's release.
There were 2,982 films studied. The number was less than 3,000 because some movies were among the top 200 for two years.
Slightly more than half, or 51.4 percent, of the releases received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (search). The next-most popular ratings category was PG-13 at 28.4 percent, followed by PG at 16.1 percent and G at 4.1 percent.
While the average G-rated movie earned a $79 million profit, the average R-rated film was $6.9 million in the black, the study said.
An average film with a PG rating was more profitable ($28.3 million) than a PG-13-rated one ($23.5 million).
"Basically, what we're pointing out is, what is considered to be conventional wisdom in Hollywood does not hold up when you look at the actual profitability and compare it with what the people want," said Dick Rolfe, founder and chairman of the Grand Rapids-based organization.
His group recently criticized Burger King Corp. for a children's promotion linked to "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" because the hit movie is rated PG-13.
The study used figures provided by Kagan Research LLC, a Monterey, Calif.-based media business research firm. Grand Valley State University's Siedman College of Business then analyzed the numbers, Rolfe said.
Messages seeking comment on the study were left at the MPAA's press office in Washington.
"I have been speaking and writing about this phenomenon, literally, for 14 years," said film critic, book author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved.
His 1992 book, "Hollywood vs. America," devotes a chapter to a computer study in which he compared the box office receipts of all 600 movies that Hollywood released a year earlier. Medved found the average PG-rated film performed three times better than the average R-rated picture in 1991.