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Unabashedly American Production Company Fights Hollywood Culture War

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Posted on August 4 2010 9:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Conventional wisdom would suggest that movie studios, like any business entity, would invest in projects most likely to turn large profits. Such wisdom assumes the chief motive of show business is business. However, there is reason to believe profit is only one factor in a more complex motive to produce films.

A 2005 study commissioned by the family-friendly Dove Foundation found that G-rated fare brought in far more revenue than films with mature themes and graphic content. We’re not talking a negligible difference either. No, we’re talking staggering.

G-rated films are 11 times more profitable than their R-rated counterparts. Nevertheless, Hollywood has churned out 12 times more R-rated films than G-rated films.

While the average G-rated film earned a profit of US$79 million, the average R-rated film earned only $6.9 million. The trend is even noticeable in the PG and PG-13 categories: the more suitable films are for family viewing, the higher their return is. The average PG film earned $28.3 million and the average PG-13 film earned $23.5 million.

What could possibly motivate movie studios to produce films 11 times less profitable than others, 12 times more often? Radio talk show host and film critic Michael Medved floated a likely theory.

Commercial success may mean money, but big stars and top producers already have more than enough money to satisfy their wants and needs. On the other hand, victory at the Academy Awards — the annual Oscar ceremony… signifies the respect of [their] peers and recognition of their seriousness as cinematic artists. It also helps to provide more creative freedom and independence for future projects while, as a lucky bonus, giving them the chance to charge higher fees. For the great majority of creative people, the delicious combination of esteem and enrichment beats pure cash every time.

In other words, if someone enjoys doing something, they are willing to do it for less money. Hollywood apparently enjoys making R-rated films more than G-rated films. That enjoyment outweighs financial considerations.

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