Being denied entry to a club is one thing, but a movie?

Early last year a few friends and myself decided to go see the new Tarantino film ‘Django Unchained’.

In Australia the film received a MA15+ rating for ‘Strong bloody violence and Themes’. At the time I was 17 and a Tarantino fanatic. I had conquered nearly all of his filmography by the age of 15, so I am a fairly seasoned Tarantino connoisseur. It is difficult to describe in words my level of excitement and anticipation to see this film. I even put off pirating the film’s screener that was leaked online, just so I could see it on the big screen.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my license at this point, and therefore didn’t have a proof of age. So after all my anticipation and excitement, when I arrived at the box office to grab my ticket, I was denied entry by the ticketseller (who would have been around the same age as myself, if not younger) as I couldn’t prove I was over 15 years old.

Prior to this event, I never realised that the movie classifications were legally restricted. In Australia, films are classified by the Australian Classification Board (Australian Classification 2014). This board is empowered by law to uphold the classification ratings under the The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Act 2014. As such, films with a MA15+ and R18+ rating in Australia are legally restricted classification, of which cinemas must legally enforce.

However, in America this isn’t necessarily the case. Where in Australia the classification rating is bound in law, in America the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is voluntary and therefore, “No studio, distributor, theater, or video store is bound by any legislation to follow the ratings applied by the MPAA ratings board.” (Parent Preview 2014).

So what does this mean in terms of space? As previously discussed here, this aspect clearly identifies with Hagerstrand’s constraint of authority (Corbett 2011). In Australia, it is arguable that cinema’s do have a duty of care to uphold minimum standards – particularly since cinemas are considered a public space. And this standard is legally bound. However, this may not necessarily be the case in America. Parents in America sued a theatre claiming they had a ‘duty of care to the public when it adopted the Motion Picture Association of America’s voluntary film-rating system.’ (Gershman 2013) This complaint, however, was dismissed.


Australian Classifications 2014, Understanding Classifications (Cinemas), viewed 20 September 2014, <;

Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed on 30 August, <>

Gershman, J 2013, ‘Do Theatres Have to Enforce Movie Ratings’, Wall Street Journal, 25 October, viewed 20 September 2014, <;

American Movie Ratings 2014, Parents Preview, viewed 20 September 2014, <;.


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