The Birth of PG-13: How Spielberg’s ‘Gremlins’ Reshaped the Movie Rating System

Shaking Up the Rating System

Back in the mid-1980s, the motion picture rating system was a binary affair, categorizing movies as either approved for general audience (PG) or restricted (R). Rarely did a movie test these limits, treading the thin line between PG and R with masterful precision. This all changed with the arrival of acclaimed director Steven Spielberg and his blockbuster movie, Gremlins.

How Gremlins Played a Pivotal Role

The film Gremlins wasn’t just a cinematic phenomenon; it also catalyzed a monumental change within the rating system. Initially released under PG, the movie’s original concept was far darker, edging towards an R rating. This drastic transformation from the original script was all thanks to the creative mind of Chris Columbus, the writer of Gremlins.

Columbus’s Darker Vision

An in-depth look into the film’s original premise shows a stark contrast from the final cut. The protagonist Lynn battling gremlins is the heart of the story, but Columbus initially incorporated graphic, dark undertones that made the plot much more sinister. There was even a vision for a devastating fate for Gizmo, the film’s beloved protagonist, pointing towards a far more horrific narrative.

Gremlins Stokes Controversy

Despite Spielberg’s creative modifications turning the narrative to secure a PG rating, the movie stirred up a storm among parents. After watching a supposedly family-friendly Christmas movie, many were taken aback by the darker elements in Gremlins, leading to widespread backlash. This monumental controversy sparked a much-needed discussion about reforming the entire rating system.

Spielberg’s Initiative for a New Rating

Aligning himself with parent’s concerns, Spielberg proposed the concept of a middle ground between PG and R, a rating that could encompass movies with more nuanced content. Thus, the PG-13 rating was born, filling a significant gap in the rating system. Spielberg’s Red Dawn was the first movie manoeuvred under this new classification.

Reflecting on the Evolution of the Rating System

While still not perfect, the evolution of the movie rating system demonstrates its necessity within the industry. The controversy that ensued with Gremlins acted as the catalyst for a key revision in movie classification. Today, the PG-13 category enables a broader range of films to reach their appropriate audience.

Revisiting Spielberg’s Iconic ‘Gremlins’

Spielberg’s Gremlins remains a remarkable landmark in movie rating history, providing the impetus for a significant overhaul. For passionate movie enthusiasts looking to watch or revisit this game-changing film, Gremlins is available to stream on Max.

In short, Spielberg’s iconic Gremlins didn’t just entertain audiences; it changed the landscape of the movie ratings system, opening up a new dimension for movie classification which continues to shape our cinematic experience today. This compelling tale reminds us of the relationship between screenwriting, creativity, and parents’ concerns about their children’s exposure to certain types of content.

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