Movie rating system is voluntary


DEAR SUN SPOTS: My concern and/or question is regarding movie ratings. I was under the impression that movie ratings determined who accessed movies with certain ratings. I know for a fact that children under the age of 17 are being permitted into R-rated movies in both the Flagship cinemas in Auburn and Lewiston without proper identification or adults being present.

I do not permit my  13-year-old to go to R-rated movies, although it is difficult to explain that there are laws surrounding this when so many other peers are going to see these restricted movies.

According to the “R” rating definition from the Motion Picture Association of America, children are not allowed in R-rated movies unless they show identification that they are of legal age or are accompanied by an adult.

Can Sun Spots find out why these laws are not followed at these local movie theaters? I know financially times are tough even for the movie theaters, but there is a good reason why these ratings were developed. Thank you! — Concerned Parent, Lewiston

ANSWER: Sun Spots called the manager of Flagship Cinemas, and he responded. But before she prints that response, Sun Spots would like to note that the guidance provided by the MPAA is just that — guidance to parents — and not a law.

At a blog on the Wall Street Journal site,, it says:

“The rating system is a voluntary guide for parents, and courts have said theaters aren’t obligated to enforce it. Most theaters do anyway — both to keep parents happy and to keep the government from imposing regulations of its own.”

There are some limits. The courts have deemed that children are to be protected from porn, so an XXX theater is off limits. 

As for your precise question, Sun Spots received the following response from Andrew Poore, the director of operations for Flagship Cinemas:

“Many thanks for your feedback on the adherence of our staff to the MPAA film ratings guidelines concerning rated ‘R’ movies. We greatly appreciate your concern and energies in bringing this matter to our attention.

“As a member of the National Association of Theatre Owners, Flagship Cinemas aims to uphold the MPAA standards, which requires a policy of nonadmittance to any patron under the age of 17 without the accompanying presence of a parent or legal guardian for rated ‘R’ films. Our staff are instructed to request proper identification from anyone appearing to be under 25 years of age, prior to the sale of any rated ‘R’ admission.

“In response to your valued concern to occurrences which are in disagreement with our policy, I would like to assure you that Flagship Cinemas requires frequent and consistent companywide reviews of MPAA film ratings to ensure all Flagship personnel understand policy and make continued efforts to uphold it.”

Finally, Sun Spots knows from her own checkered youth that with multiplexes it is relatively easy to buy a ticket for one movie and then see another. Teenagers who are determined to hang out with their friends can be difficult to thwart.

HI, SUN, IF I MAY BE SO INFORMAL: I am an avid enjoyer of your column. I am also a cribbage enthusiast. In response to the recent column about the popularity of cribbage, I would like to offer the following.

My father began to teach me cribbage at about the age of 10. We enjoyed it together. When we lived in Milwaukee (circa 1928), my father would be visited by a John Bachelor, a field man for the infant National Recreation Association. Perhaps my dad learned the game from this Scot.

Cribbage was a popular game in Wisconsin and surrounding Midwest areas. As a Marine in Alaska in the war, I played it there and later played it after returning to Wisconsin after the war.

With no suggestion of personal aggrandizement, I can say I am the only person I ever heard of or knew who ever had two “perfect” hands of cribbage (29) in the game.

Other challengers? — Raymond C. Miller, Paris, [email protected]

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am writing this on behalf of a Chinese lady who has recently come to this country and is living in Otisfield. Her daughter would like to find mahjong players in the Oxford Hills area who would be interested in playing with her.

This lady does not speak English, but is a good mahjong player and needs something to do. If you can help, you can contact her daughter at [email protected] or if you don’t do computers, call me at 674-2143. Thank you. — Marta, Bryant Pond

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]