Moviegoers to Hollywood: Sex doesn’t sell!

Dr. Ted Baehr Founder, Movieguide
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Six years ago, a major newspaper hired a polling company to find out what teenagers aged 12 to 17 like and don’t like. The results broke with conventional wisdom: 58 percent of boys and 74 percent of girls said they were offended by sexual material in movies and television programs. Similar percentages said they didn’t like hearing obscene language.

The question is: Does Hollywood, beholden to its bottom line, care?

Each year, the staff at the Christian Film & Television Commission and Movieguide: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment conduct an extensive study of what kinds of movies make the most money in the United States, Canada and the rest of the world, and then report those results to the entertainment industry. Movieguide delivered the highlights from this year’s “Report to the Entertainment Industry” at its twentieth annual Faith & Values Awards Gala on February 10 in Los Angeles.

The report not only shows that movies with explicit sex and nudity make Hollywood the least amount of money, but that movies with absolutely no implied or depicted sex, including references to pre-marital sex, make the most money by a significant margin. Also, moviegoers like movies with absolutely no foul language or only light foul language. The more sex, nudity and foul language in a movie, the less it makes at American and Canadian box offices.

In 2011, only one of the top ten movies overseas, “The Hangover II,” had any extensive sexual content or nudity, and it only made about a third of what the top moneymaker made. Only one of the top ten best-selling DVDs of 2011, “Bridesmaids,” had any scenes depicting sex. A large majority (70 percent) of the top ten movies overseas had either no foul language or very little. The same holds true for DVD sales. In fact, the best-selling home video of the year, Disney’s “Tangled,” has no foul language whatsoever.

The report also reveals similar statistics in regard to movies with Christian, non-Christian, anti-Christian, atheist and other moral and immoral values.

It’s clear that family-friendly movies with no sex, nudity, foul language, substance abuse or other immoral content are the most popular movies, both here and overseas, and that moviegoers and home video buyers prefer family-friendly movies with Christian, biblical, conservative and traditional values, like “Tangled,” “Toy Story 3,” “The Blind Side,” “Cars 2,” “Captain America,” “Mission Impossible” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

When will Hollywood realize that sex — and nudity and foul language and substance abuse and other immoral content — just doesn’t sell?

There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world today, and many of the 76 percent of Americans who call themselves Christian are moviegoers, so it makes economic and moral sense for studios to make movies that Christians will enjoy, get excited about and spend their hard-earned cash on.

Many people in Hollywood are listening. The number of family movies has skyrocketed in recent years while the number of movies with overt Christian content has steadily increased.

Still, studios continue to produce a steady stream of films with objectionable content.

Investors and financiers must put pressure on those in Hollywood to sit up and take notice. Producing family-friendly films is not only in their financial interests, it’s the right thing to do.

Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of Movieguide: A Family Guide to Movies and Television.

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Dr. Ted Baehr