“World War Z” opened in theaters on June 21, 2013. The zombie apocalypse film, based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks, grossed over $200 million domestically and charted at the 13th position among the highest. highest grossing film of 2013.
when the dvd and blu-ray versions of the film were released in september, consumers could choose between the theatrical version, rated pg-13, and an unrated version “with vivid visuals not shown on the theaters,” according to the film’s website.
In an interview with website shocktilyoudrop.com about the dvd and blu-ray release, director marc forster said, “i’m really excited for (audiences) to see the unrated version because obviously when you’re trying to deliver a pg-13 you’re a bit handcuffed….the unrated version is my preference because it’s not just about adding blood and gore.the overall intensity is more than the rated version.you can dial it up more.”
Unrated DVDs and Blu-rays add a new facet for content-conscious viewers who take movie ratings seriously. These movie versions became popular in the late 1990s, according to a 2005 article by Elaine Dutka in the Los Angeles Times.
Unrated versions may include scenes of violence, sex, nudity, or profanity that were not shown in theaters. however, that is not always the case.
“An unrated movie is just that: a version of the movie that hasn’t been submitted for a rating,” said kate bedingfield, senior spokeswoman for the motion picture association of america. “The rating system is voluntary, so anyone can release an unrated movie on the home entertainment market. however, if a film has already been rated and the filmmaker releases an unrated version on dvd or blu-ray, the unrated version’s package must include a notice to parents indicating what the original rating of the unrated version was. the film and notes that the unrated version includes different material.”
As unrated dvds and blu-rays are becoming more and more popular, even netflix has unrated movies in their library, parents may want to pay attention to whether the movie they are watching at home is the same shown in theaters.
According to former deseret news film critic chris hicks, who continues to write columns and articles on dvd for the publication, there are three basic reasons for the “unrated” label.
First, the film simply has additional scenes not shown in theaters that, while not necessarily objectionable, were not rated by the mpaa and should therefore be considered unrated.
“The thing about the movie rating system is that every time you change the movie, regardless of how you adjust it, it has to be rated again,” Hicks said. “You cannot continue with the previous rating if it has been changed. therefore, they may just not bother to rate it again. it may not be any harder than it was before; it’s just different. They didn’t bother to rate it and it came out unrated.”
In some cases, Hicks says, studios don’t bother to re-rate the film because of cost. ratings boards charge studios a percentage of the film’s budget, and multiple ratings would eat up the profits. so it’s easier to mark the dvd or blu-ray as “unrated” and not bother paying to have the movie re-rated.
Bonus material on DVD and Blu-ray, such as deleted scenes or audio commentary by the film’s actors or director, also falls into this category.
on most dvd and blu-ray boxes, including family-friendly movies like disney’s “frozen,” words like “unrated bonus material” or ” unclassified special features”.
the second reason a dvd or blu-ray might be considered unrated is that the movie was released before the mpaa rating system. If the movie was recently re-released on DVD or Blu-ray, chances are it was given a modern rating. but it is still possible to find movies with “approved”, “unrated” or “unrated” ratings.
Movies like “Mary Poppins” (1964) and “The Ten Commandments” (1956) originally received a “approving” rating, but with recent releases on DVD and Blu-ray, the rating was changed to “G.” However, films such as “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944), “The Robe” (1953) and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), among others, are still rated “nr” or, in some cases, , “ur” on the dvd.
The third reason is one that parents should be aware of. Additional scenes added to DVD or Blu-ray could very well include objectionable content such as sex, nudity, violence, or profanity that did not appear in the film version.
“There are two unquestionable reasons why movies are released in an unrated version,” Hicks said. “One is that they had to tone it down to get the rating they wanted. sometimes they had to tone down an nc-17 so they could get an r to be shown in most theaters. and sometimes they tone down an r-rated movie to get a pg-13 and then when they release it (on dvd), they want the version they originally did to come out and they justify it that way. … the other reason is simply because they can. they have all these deleted scenes that they didn’t use in the movie and it’s another way for the studio to make a little more money.”
Unrated versions are clearly labeled. However, unlike R-rated movies, there aren’t many safeguards in place for retailers to keep unrated DVDs or Blu-rays from minors. inevitably, the onus is on parents to determine what is right for their children.
“Our goal (at the mpaa) is to ensure that parents have the information they need to make viewing decisions on behalf of their children,” said bedingfield.
ben tullis is a former deseret news intern and freelance writer. He graduated from UVU in August 2014 with a BA in English. He lives in Pleasant Grove with his wife and his 3-year-old son. follow him on twitter at bentullis.