Classic Films Receive Revised Age Ratings by BBFC

Classic Films Receive Revised Age Ratings by BBFC

…By Alan Peterson for TDPel Media. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has recently announced revisions to the age ratings of several classic films, including “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and “Watership Down.”


Both movies were initially rated as universal (U), indicating that they were suitable for all audiences.

However, upon resubmission to the BBFC, their ratings were raised to parental guidance (PG) due to the presence of certain content that may require guidance for younger viewers.

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture” Receives a PG Rating

“Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” a sci-fi hit released in 1979, was directed by Robert Wise and featured William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.


The film, serving as the first installment of the film series spin-off based on the original TV show, follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise and its crew.

The reason for the PG rating is attributed to brief mild horror and sex references present in the movie.

“Watership Down” Earns a PG Rating

The 1978 animated adventure film “Watership Down” tells the tale of a colony of rabbits seeking a safe place to establish a new warren after their community is threatened by human developers.

The film, based on Richard Adams’ bestselling novel, garnered a PG rating due to mild violence, threat, brief bloody images, and bad language.

It also contains a “distressing sequence” where animals engage in fighting, resulting in bite and claw injuries.


BBFC’s Classification Process

The BBFC’s annual report clarified that when a distributor resubmits a film with an existing BBFC rating, the organization reevaluates it according to their current guidelines.

Consequently, films may be reclassified either at a higher or lower rating than previously assigned.

Refining Age Ratings to Reflect Current Policies

The BBFC report explained that the PG rating for “Watership Down” was a result of reviewing the film under their current guidelines, which consider elements such as violence, threat, injury detail, and language.

This practice ensures that BBFC classification decisions align with prevailing societal standards.

BBFC’s Classification Guidelines

The BBFC develops its classification guidelines through extensive consultations with thousands of individuals across the UK, combined with in-depth research and organizational expertise.


Periodically, usually every four to five years, these guidelines are updated to reflect evolving expectations and values within society.

Future Consultations and Industry Partnerships

The BBFC is set to conduct its next consultation this year, with any changes required by the research set to be implemented in early 2024.

The report highlighted that in 2022, the BBFC classified 1,057 cinema films, 5,527 video submissions, and 3,649 online submissions.

The age rating of 15 was the most common category for both online and physical media submissions, encompassing 42% of all classified content in 2022.

Partnerships with Streaming Services

The British classification body now licenses 33 brands and services, including major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+, to carry its age ratings and data.


BBFC’s Vision for the Future

David Austin, chief executive of the BBFC, expressed enthusiasm about the organization’s recent developments, including reaching 110 years of classification and solidifying partnerships with video-on-demand services.

The BBFC’s exploration of AI projects aims to integrate new technology into the compliance process to provide enhanced efficiencies for customers and the film industry.

Unveiling Audience Expectations

Natasha Kaplinksy, president of the board, emphasized the BBFC’s ongoing consultation with over 10,000 individuals across the UK to understand how audience expectations are evolving.

The findings will be used to update the classification guidelines, forming the foundation for age rating decisions, including reevaluating age ratings for older films.

The outcomes of this comprehensive exploration are scheduled to be unveiled in 2024.


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