From The Telegraph
British Censors have criticised some of Hollywood's largest
film distributors, including one owned by Walt Disney, for failing to warn
parents of the sexual and violent content of films approved for children.
Under a change to the classification system introduced last year, films
given the new 12A rating can be viewed by children only if they are
accompanied by an adult. A clearly visible warning of the content of the
film should be carried on material advertising the films, however.
The British Board of Film Classification has uncovered many
cases in which the warnings have been non-existent or so small that they are
The board has also received complaints from parents who
feel that they have been misled into taking their children to see films that
they then found unsuitable.
The companies involved include Buena Vista, owned by Walt
Disney, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer. The board has now contacted several of the
offending companies, including Buena Vista, warning them that they must
comply with the rules in future.
Sue Clark, a spokesman for the British Board of Film
Classification, said that the board was in talks with some distributors
about their failure to provide proper warnings.
The 12A certificate is dependent on companies providing
proper warnings about the film. The majority of distributors take their
responsibilities very seriously, but we do have concerns about the way some
companies are promoting 12A films, she said. We are talking to parts
of the industry to ensure that companies do provide guidance which is
visible and easy to read. When it comes to our attention that publicity is
not on the material, or is too small to read, we raise it with the company
and require them to amend it.
The 12A rating, which was introduced in August, is highly
prized by the film industry because it means that children accompanied by an
adult can go to see films previously regarded as unsuitable for them. It has
been granted to more than a 100 films already, generating millions of pounds
in extra box office revenue.
It is a condition of the certificate, however, that all
advertising material for the film should carry highly visible warnings about
bad language and sex and violence.
An examination of publicity campaigns for recent 12A
releases substantiates fears that some sections of the industry are not
giving proper prominence to these warnings.
One example is a two-page advertisement in Empire film
magazine for Die Another Day, the most recent James Bond film, distributed
by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It includes the film's 12A certificate, but no
warnings on content.
In April and June this year Buena Vista failed to include
warnings in advertisements, also published in Empire, for two of its 12A
releases, The Recruit, which starred Al Pacino and Colin Farrell, and
Bringing Down The House, which starred Steve Martin.
Even in cases where advertisements for films have carried
the required warnings about content, some have been so small they are almost
The 12A certificate and warning on an advert for the
Oscar-nominated Far From Heaven was one such example, although the film,
which was distributed by Focus Films, dealt with issues of racial prejudice
and homosexuality in 1950s America.
The warnings on more recent releases including Down With
Love, which stars Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, Matchstick Men, which
was directed by Sir Ridley Scott, and the Buena Vista blockbuster Pirates of
the Caribbean also carry tiny warnings.
These are often in the smallest lettering on posters and
adverts - less prominent than the references to the film's internet sites.
Although the board has no plans to scrap the 12A
certification, it is warning film companies that their breaches are
undermining public confidence in the system and that "nothing is set in
David Turtle, of Mediawatch-UK, a viewers' campaign group,
said: I think some of the distributors are acting in a very irresponsible
manner. People can only make a proper choice if they are given adequate
information. Far too often parents have to rely on what they read in a
particular film review and that is an unacceptable situation.