Fourteen-year-olds in Saskatchewan can head to the theatre by themselves to see the movie Deadpool, but in the U.S. they’d have to be 18.
That’s because the MPAA in the U.S. rated the film about the foul-mouthed superhero R, for “strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity”.
In Canada each province has their own rating system for movies. The Saskatchewan Film Classification Board has a deal with its B.C. counterpart, and uses its rating system.
This system means the ratings can vary wildly from those south of the border, and even across the country. Deadpool had a 14A rating in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, but was given an 18A rating in Manitoba and Ontario. The B.C. Film Classification Board estimates 43 per cent of film ratings differ across provinces.
Matthew Barton is with the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority in Saskatchewan. He explained why the rating in Saskatchewan was so different.
“One of the things that the people are looking for as reviewers is explicit depictions of certain things, that would push it up into the higher classification … (the reviewers) felt, in the instance of Deadpool, the explicit depictions did not happen, did not occur. There’s fast cutaways, unrealistic violence, and … it wasn’t high detail.”
The reviewers did note that in the 108-minute runtime of the movie, there were 140 instances of coarse and/or sexual language, several scenes of violence with beatings, shootings, impalement and decapitations, two sexually-suggestive scenes, and five scene of nudity in sexual and non-sexual contexts.
Deadpool isn’t the only film to be given a different rating. Oscar front-runner The Revenant had an R rating in the U.S., but got a 14A rating in B.C. and Saskatchewan. Similarly, the two biggest films of 2015, Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both had PG-13 ratings in the U.S., but were given PG ratings here.
Rating equivalents differ between Saskatchewan’s ratings and the MPAA in the U.S.
14A (PG 13)
A film is to be classified as General if the contents are considered acceptable for all age groups. Films with this rating are allowed to include: occasional violence, occasional swearing and coarse language, the most innocent of sexually suggestive scenes and nudity. If a film includes any of the above, a warning accompanying the films advertisements may be required.
Parental Guidance (PG)
A film is to be classified as Parental Guidance where the themes or content of the film may not be suitable for all children, although there is no age restriction.
A film is to be classified as 14A where the film is suitable for viewing by people aged 14 or older. Children under 14 are admitted if accompanied by an adult. Films with this rating may contain: violence, coarse language, and/or sexually suggestive scenes.
A film is to be classified as 18A where the film is suitable for viewing by people aged 18 or older — not for people under age 18 unless accompanied by an adult. Films with this rating will contain: horror, explicit violence, frequent coarse language and sexually suggestive scenes.
People under the age of 18 are not granted entrance to Restricted films. Films with a restricted rating contain some or all of the following: sexually explicit scenes, brutal violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing scenes, frequent use of coarse language and swearing.
Admittance to films classified as Adult is restricted to people 18 years and older. The content is not suitable for minors — contains predominantly sexually explicit activity.