Potter Film Gets M15+ Rating

Views on BG | June 3, 2004, Thursday // 00:00

The Age, Australia
By Garry Maddox

Is the new Harry Potter movie too dark for young children?

The Australian distributor has appealed against a rating that makes Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban not recommended for anyone under 15.

The M15+ rating, with advice that the movie contains horror elements, is potentially damaging for its box office compared with the PG - for Parental Guidance - for the first two movies.

Managing director of Roadshow Film Distributors Joel Pearlman said yesterday that the third instalment also deserved a PG. He described the M as the toughest rating for the movie in the world.

"We believe that parents are going to make their own decision about whether the film is appropriate or not for their children," he said. The appeal is due to be heard on Tuesday, two days before the movie's national release. It opened during school holidays in Tasmania yesterday.

Vice-president of the Australian Family Association, Bill Muehlenberg, said last night that it was unfortunate the film's makers had included scenes that gave it an M rating.

"You would think the filmmakers would get the gist of the book and not make it so it would get the M rating," he said.

Mr Muehlenberg said the rating would prevent some parents from taking their children to see the movie, but most would be undeterred because Harry Potter was so popular.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification's M15+ category recommends that a film be viewed only by those aged 15 and over, but does not legally bar under-15-year-olds.

The MA15+ restricted category requires that anyone under the age of 15 is accompanied by an adult. The rating was based on a five-three decision by the classification board.

The director of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, Des Clark, said the classification had been decided partly for the depiction of the Dementors, who suck the life essence out of humans.

"It also covers the depictions of a character who transforms into a werewolf and takes part in a frightening fight with a black wolf during a pivotal scene in the film, before stalking Harry and Hermione through a dark wood in a later sequence," he said. Mr Clark said parents should assess a child's maturity to handle horror elements.

The Brad Pitt epic Troy had its original classification of MA altered to M less than two days before it was released in Australia on May 13 after distributor Roadshow Films appealed.

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