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07 What does the number at the end of the end credits mean?




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This article is from the rec.arts.movies.current-films FAQ, by Evelyn C. Leeper evelynleeper@geocities.com with numerous contributions by others.

07 What does the number at the end of the end credits mean?

The Motion Picture Association of America (the MPAA) is responsible for
assigning these numbers. It is part of their film rating service. Any film
can be submitted to the MPAA for rating (the G/PG/PG13/R/NC-17 ratings
Americans are familiar with), for a small fee. Any film rated by the MPAA
is issued a unique number. Any film can be submitted, but many aren't,
including most adult sex films, many foreign films, industrial films and
other training and educational films, television films, and some
independently made films.

The rating service (and the numbering associated with it) was started
in 1968. There is no publicly available list of films and numbers, and
the MPAA information office does not have the title of the film issued
certificate #1 readily available. [Joshua Kreitzer,
gromit82@hotmail.com, pointed out after this was written that cccording
to Mark A. Vieira's SIN IN SOFT-FOCUS, the first film to receive a
certificate under the Production Code was John Ford's THE WORLD MOVES
ON (1934).]

Films before 1968 were assigned numbers based on their agreement to the
Production Code, instituted July 1, 1934. Under that scheme, the film SHE,
released in 1935, has number 985. Rod McKim (Rod@usenet.despot.com)
reports that THE SCARLET EMPRESS, released in 1934, has number 16, the
lowest by far that he has seen. Reports of any other low number
spottings would be appreciated. Given that the current number is in
the 30,000, I believe the current numbers are continued from those,
rather than restarted in 1968.

A word or two more about MPAA ratings. The ratings are assigned by a board
composed of "ordinary citizens", largely parents, as the intent of the
rating system is to protect the tender minds of children from harm. The
board watches the film and collectively assigns a rating. If the producer
doesn't like the rating, s/he has a couple of options. The rating can be
appealed to the MPAA official in charge of rating films. On a few
occasions, the appeal has been successful. Not too surprisingly, appeals by
large studios tend to have a better success rate than appeals by smaller
studios. Alternately, the producer can recut the film and resubmit it. The
MPAA rating board will tell a filmmaker what caused a film to get a rating,
but they never actually tell a filmmaker that if this scene is cut, you will
get that rating. Somehow or other, though, the information tends to get to
the filmmakers, so that Alan Parker, for instance, somehow knew that cutting
a few seconds of Mickey Rourke humping Lisa Bonet while blood drips from the
ceiling changes ANGEL HEART from a film no child should see to a film merely
requiring parental presence.

While we're at it, what is the MPAA? It's an industry organization for the
American film production business, particularly for the major studios. Its
members are Disney, Columbia, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal,
and Warner Brothers. These companies pay fees to the MPAA that are used as
the primary source of financing for the organization. In addition to the
ratings, the MPAA performs other services for their members, including
lobbying the government. (They prefer to refer to this service as "working
on issues important to the film industry.") Jack Valenti, the head of the
MPAA, is a prominent spokesman who speaks for "Hollywood" as a whole,
generally on issues important to all the studios, like film piracy, trade
disputes with other countries, and censorship. The MPAA was founded in 1922,
so it's been doing this sort of thing for quite a while.

[Thanks to Peter Reiher, reiher@ficus.cs.ucla.edu, for this answer.]

 

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