LOS ANGELES (AP) â€” For the first time, theater owners have adopted guidelines prohibiting the showing of R-rated film trailers in advance of feature films rated G or PG.
The National Association of Theater Owners, with 700 members in the United States, issued the new guidelines Monday. The policy was unanimously approved at a general membership meeting held last week.
The group also issued new guidelines for preventing children under 17 from get in to see restricted films.
The movie industry is still struggling to overcome intense criticism stemming from a Federal Trade Commission report in September that criticized the entertainment industry for marketing violent and sexually explicit films, music and video games to children.
Congress intensified the pressure with hearings on the report. And the marketing of violence has become an issue in the presidential campaign, as well, with Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, saying they would give Hollywood six months to adopt strict marketing guidelines or face potential federal regulation.
The new theater owners' guidelines would allow individual operators to decide whether to show a trailer for an R-rated film before a feature rated PG-13, one notch up from G or PG.
The association is requiring members to examine trailers to ``ensure that their tone and content are consistent with the feature film and that nothing in the trailer itself is likely to offend the audience.''
It goes a step beyond guidelines adopted in September by the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents film studios, and which urged theater owners to stop showing trailers for R-rated films before G-rated features but didn't include PG films.
The new theater owners' guidelines also require each member to appoint a senior executive compliance officer to enforce policies restricting access to films rated R and NC-17. They urge the posting of extra security outside theaters during the showing of ``extreme R-rated films and all NC-17-rated films.''
It will now be up to individual theater chains to adopt specific policies based on the guidelines, said John Fithian, president of the theater owners' association.
The United Artists Theatre Circuit Inc., one of the largest theater chains, will issue its policy changes in the next week or so, said president and chief executive officer Kurt Hall.
``We're taking it very, very seriously,'' Hall said.
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