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The 10 Films with the Hardest PG-13 Rating

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 15, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 15, 2011 |

Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to hold on to the top spot at the weekend’s box office, dropping 50 percent and tallying an estimated $27.5 million. Typically, a 50 percent drop is not something that folks boast about, but given Apes’ surprising debut last week with about $55 million, that $27 million is seen as a success. More impressive is the fact that the $93 million budgeted film is already in the black after 10 days ($104 million). Before the summer is out, Rise will almost certainly break the yearly top 10 and surpass some of those more highly anticipated films of the summer, like Captain America, The Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class and maybe even Thor.

One factor that’s likely helping the film’s box-office success so far is its PG-13 rating, a rating I was surprised to learn it had after screening it. It’s not that the film is particularly bloody, but it is intense and thematically more mature than most PG-13 movies in the marketplace. I even saw in our comments a few complaints from parents who walked out with their children over the level of violence.

It’s interesting how the MPAA determines its PG-13 rating. It’s almost as though there’s a formula: You get one f-bomb, a brief boob flash, and a certain amount of blood before the film crosses the line, but intensity of action and adult themes don’t seem to be taken into account as much. Here, for instance, are a few films I was surprised to see were PG-13: An Education, Die Another Day, Philadelphia, Red Sonja, Terminator Salvation, Valkyrie, The Haunting in Connecticut, Lars and the Real Girl, Insidious and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

As a technical matter, I understand why all the above were PG-13, but on the other hand, they do seem targeted at more mature audiences. The above, however, were not the most shocking PG-13 ratings. These, at least in my estimation, are the 10 Hardest PG-13 Rated films.

10. Anchorman

9. Drag Me to Hell

8. Hanna

7. Casino Royale

6. Live Free or Die Hard

5. Beowulf

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

3. Sucker Punch

2. Taken

1. The Dark Knight

Meanwhile, elsewhere at the box-office, in at number two, The Help pulled in a very solid $25.5 million. Since it opened on Wednesday, it has put up a solid $35 million. Given reviews and mostly positive word of mouth, I expect The Help, like another female ensemble earlier this summer, Bridesmaids, will have legs that will keep it in the top 5 through August. (Three months after its release, Bridesmaids is still in the top 20, while the movie it opened against, Priest has long since left theaters.

There were three other debuts this weekend, and all opened with varying degrees of disappointment. Final Destination 5 shat out a crappy $18.5 million, down considerably from the $27 million of the last movie, despite the fact that 5 was much better (there are some who have even suggested that FD5 is the best 3D horror movie to date; I’d put it at number two, behind My Bloody Valentine).

Meanwhile, 30 Minutes or Less opened at number five, below even The Smurfs in its third week, earning only $13 million. I was most surprised by that opening, given the decent reviews, Jesse Eisenberg coming off of The Social Network, and Aziz Ansari’s Parks and Rec popularity. Then I remembered that “Parks and Recreation” fetches only 4 million viewers a week and that I live in an Internet microcosm where my interests don’t always align with the masses. If, instead of Ansari, the film had starred The Situation, I’m sure it would’ve fared better.

Or maybe not, because the Glee 3D concert film actually landed outside the top ten, with only $5.7 million. How to explain that, I don’t know, given the 12 million or so viewers the show has and the meager 500,000 who bought tickets to see the film.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.