Inappropriate Movie Trailers Playing Before PG-13 Rated Films

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Inappropriate Movie Trailers Playing Before PG-13 Rated Films

I attended the Thursday night public screening of Black Panther (read my review here) last week. In attendance in the audience of the film were: adults, families, teenagers, and children of various ages. An usher had told me before the film began that there would be fifteen minutes of movie trailers.

I had been in this exuberant movie trailer situation before, a problem that doesn’t exist in advanced press screenings, so I settled in, as the lights went down, for film trailers that I had already seen online numerous times.

What is a Movie Trailer?

A movie trailer is

an advertisement or a commercial for a feature film that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema, the result of creative and technical work. The term “trailer” comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a feature film screening. That practice did not last long, because patrons tended to leave the theater after the films ended, but the name has stuck. Trailers are now shown before the film begins.

The Movie Trailers Before Black Panther

The majority of the trailers before Black Panther, Ready Player One, etc., were trailers for PG-13 films, thus all the material in those trailers was family-friendly. There were, however, R-rated outliers in that gaggle of movie trailers.

One of the outlier movie trailers that played before PG-13 Black Panther was the trailer for R-rated Red Sparrow. In various scenes in the Red Sparrow trailer, its star, Jennifer Lawrence, begins to get undressed and is in other provocative situations, one which features a man showing up in a shower with Lawrence and Lawrence violently defending herself against his unwanted sexual advance.

Another R-rated trailer that showed before PG-13 Black Panther was for the horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night. Nothing bloody was shown in the trailer but the intensity of what was on display left a strong and residual impression.

Questions After the Black Panther Trailer Block

When the movie trailers had run their course, I was left wondering, why hadn’t analegous trailers, i.e. PG-13 film trailers, been selected for the trailer block that ran before Black Panther? Was there a screening process for these trailers? If there had been, with someone thinking about the mixture of people that would actually be seeing Black Panther, they never would have selected R-rated trailers to precurse a PG-13 Marvel film. Marvel doesn’t even place that content in their superhero films, Logan being one of the exceptions.


I get why someone, without moral concerns, would place those R-rated trailers at the beginning of a PG-13 blockbuster film. Disney and 20th Century Fox want the films advertised in those trailers to be blockbusters as well. Placing those trailers in the trailer block before Black Panther raised the awareness factor for those films amongst paying customers. From a marketing standpoint, I got why they did what they did.

Non-paying Customers

Here is the opposite side of that coin: a large portion of that PG-13 film audience won’t be allowed to pay for and see those R-rated films. Many in the audience of my Black Panther screening were under the age of fifteen, had no job, and had no way of getting to the theater outside of their parents.

No Warning. No Detachment

The copy of Black Panther that showed at the theater that I was at, a Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas theater, was a digital copy, not a series of film reels, like in the past. That meant that the trailers were physically a part of the copy of Black Panther that played at the theater. The Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas theater had no choice but to play the trailers, all of them, in their entirety.

What Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas, Disney, and 20th Century Fox could have done was to place a thorough warning before the trailers began. Something like – “In the following series of trailers, there will be advertisements for R-rated films containing mature content and themes. If you don’t want your children to see these trailers, please step out of the theater now. Thank you.”

Perhaps such warnings are coming.

I don’t see films with audiences as much as I did in the past so I don’t know if this is a common practice or not – showing R-rated trailers in front of PG-13 films. I’m guessing that it is. That is a shame.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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