Is the 12A Certificate Ruining Cinema?

Is the 12A certificate a good thing?Is there anything better than going to the movies? The experience of watching some of your favourite characters on the biggest screen imaginable is an incredibly exciting way to spend an evening.

However, since 2002, the UK film industry has seen cataclysmic changes that have altered cinema for absolutely everyone who loves movies. Whether you’re young or old, the introduction of the 12A certification by the British Board of Film Classification now means films are more accessible to more people than ever before.

But is that necessarily a good thing? Definitely not. In broadening the appeal of film and creating a certificate that allows everyone to go and see it, no matter what their age, the BBFC has inadvertently created an industry that now aims for this certificate, rather than just creating a film and seeing what happens.

Because 12A is such a lucrative rating, all of the major studios try to make films that will definitely fit within the parameters set by the BBFC. This mass-market appeal is absolutely devastating for the film industry. So what does 12A actually mean? Well, the BBFC says the following:

“Films classified 12A and video works classified 12 contain material that is not generally suitable for children aged under 12. No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult. Adults planning to take a child under 12 to view a 12A film should consider whether the film is suitable for that child. To help them decide, we recommend that they check the BBFCinsight for that film in advance. No one younger than 12 may rent or buy a 12 rated video work.”                            

The problem with this is that parents are now given the power to decide whether or not a film is suitable for their children – and from personal experience, this power is heavily misused. Take Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for example. The box-office behemoth has roared past $1.3billion worldwide, and was one of the biggest films of the summer for thousands of people across the globe.

It’s understandable that parents, struggling for childcare will bring their kids along with them and that’s fine for the most part. The problem arises because there is no limit to the age of child allowed to be admitted into a cinema screening of a 12A movie. A recent showing I went to was marred by the cries of hysteria from children who couldn’t have been more than five.

Fallen Kingdom is not suitable for children below 10, never mind five year olds. Dark, gothic horror and scenes of destruction and death feature heavily throughout. The BBFC aren’t seeing the bigger picture, and in creating this cash-cow of a rating, they’re systematically destroying film.

And this is a trend we’re seeing across the board. The Hunger Games series was marred by a 12A certification despite the books being much, much darker. Naturally, this opened them up to massive box office success, but think about what could have been. Had Lionsgate been braver, they could have aimed for a 15 rating and included some of the book’s more adult themes.

It’s not all bad news though. With the release of Deadpool in 2016, and its subsequent success, studios like 20th Century Fox have seen the merit in creating a whole new genre of films for those who don’t want to sit and be disturbed by Sheila having to take her whinging brats out of the cinema every 10 minutes. With Logan and this year’s Deadpool 2 all being financially profitable, we may start seeing an increased number of these films being released over the next few years.

Nevertheless, there will always be a market for a crowd-pleasing rating like 12A and while the film industry is sure to reap the benefits of such a hugely over-encompassing certification, traditional film fans are stuck between a rock and a hard place. After all, if all studios are interested in is releasing a film to rake in as much money as possible, surely the quality of future movies is going to suffer?

The Transformers series is a prime example of this. With each film barring The Last Knight being massively successful at the UK box office, and each film being absolutely lambasted by critics, are we going to see waves upon waves of poor quality blockbusters littering the cinema?

Fun fact: The Bourne Identity was actually the first film to be released in UK cinemas with a 12A certification.

What do you make of the 12A rating here in the UK? Do you think it was a smart move to introduce it or has it systematically destroyed the film industry. Let us know in the comment box below.

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