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Which MPAA Rating Leads to the Highest Grossing Films?

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 8, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 8, 2012 |

The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s reboot of the Marvel franchise, shot its sticky substance all over the box office this weekend, racking up $65 million over the three-day period and $140 million since opening on Tuesday. It didn’t quite match the six-day total of the previous two Spider-Man movies, but it did fare significantly better than recent franchise reboots like Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class. The test will be how it does in the coming weeks, and while the Cinemascore was high (an A-), the crushing competition of The Dark Knight Rises in two weeks may halt The Amazing Spider-Man before it reaches $300 million.

I also noticed that the $65 million three-day frame was the 47th highest opening weekend of all time for a PG-13 movie, which got me wondering: Which rating fares the best in terms of box office? I suppose it’s not surprising that the PG-13 rating — which has been around since 1984 — is by far the most successful ratings.

Here’s a look at the numbers:

  • The top four movies of all time (Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers and The Dark Knight) are PG-13 movies.

  • Nineteen of the top 30 movies of all time are PG-13.

  • 54 of the Top 100 Movies of All Time are PG-13.

  • 9 of the Top 100 Movies of All Time are G Rated.

  • 30 of the Top 100 Movies of All Time are PG Rated

  • 7 of the Top 100 Movies of All time are R-Rated

  • The Highest Grossing NC-17 Movie of All Time (Showgirls) is only the 2706th highest grossing movie ever.

  • Between 1995 and 2012, PG-13 movies dad an average box-office Gross of $42 million; the average for G-Rated movies was $38 million; the average for PG-Rated movies was $37 million, and the average gross for R-Rated movies was $15 million.

  • From 1995 to 2011, 3,400 R-Rated movies were released in theaters; 1900 PG-13 Rated movies were released in theaters; 930 PG-Rated films, and 238 G-Rated films were released in theaters.


    As for the rest of the box-office story, Ted continues to perform incredibly well, adding $32 million over the weekend to bring its ten-day total to $120 million. Not bad for an R-rated movie about a profanity-fueled, pot-smoking Teddy Bear. Meanwhile, Brave is hanging in there. It added $20 million and has now made $174 million.

    Oliver Stone’s Savages had a modest $16.2 million opening (Oliver Stone’s third best ever, and best for an R-Rated movie), while Katy Perry’s Part of Me opened in 8th with $7.1 million.

    Magic Mike dropped a whopping 60 percent in week two, but the $5 million movie is closing in on $75 million and likely to top $100 million, so Soderbergh isn’t sweating it. Finally, in 9th and 10th place went to the two films that will probably battle it out for the highest grossing indie flicks of the summer, Moonrise Kingdom ($4.6 million, $26 million overall) and Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love ($3.5 million, $5.2 million after two weeks).

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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.