Movie Rating Systems: BBFC vs. MPAA

So today I went online to check out a movie I want to see in London (except £8,50 for a student ticket… LOL).  I was looking at showtimes when I noticed the movie ratings… it was rated 15.  Sure enough, the UK has a different movie rating system than we do in the States!  Out of curiosity, I looked up the chart of ratings, and here’s what I found:

movie ratings


For any British readers, here’s what we Americans are used to:



Though the two organizations, the British Board of Film Classification and the Motion Picture Association of America, have essentially the same mission, their rating systems are, as you can see, slightly different.

From the MPAA website:

“[Parents] need the tools to decide what movies are suitable for their children to watch. From understanding how movie ratings work and have evolved with the times to helping parents find movies appropriate for their kids, we want to help make movie-going a positive experience in your family’s life. Movie ratings provide parents with advance information about the content of movies to help them determine what’s appropriate for their children.”

And from the BBFC website:

“In order to protect children from unsuitable and even harmful content in films and videos and to give consumers information they might need about a particular film or video before deciding whether or not to view it, the BBFC examines and age rates films and videos before they are released. This independent scrutiny prior to release ensures the highest possible level of protection and empowerment.”

It’s interesting to see the different ages on which the ratings are based.  In the U.S., it’s 13 and 17, while in the U.K. it seems to be 12, 15, and 18.  Why these ages particularly?  I’ve yet to find the answer to that question.