Examples of classifications noting harm to animals

Only 32% of Kiwis in Cinema Census check classifications, and they told us why


Among the exhaustive list of questions asked: “Do you take into consideration age classifications and notes about content? (For example: M suicide, sex scenes, offensive language and drug use).”

The responses, collected from nearly 5000 Kiwis, show that fewer than one-third of moviegoers check the classification of films. It’s a statistic that wasn’t a shock to Chief Censor David Shanks, who told us (in an interview you can read in full here) “it didn’t entirely surprise me and to some extent, it correlated with some of the other surveys and checks that we’ve undertaken in the past”.

“If you had surveyed me in my twenties or thirties,” Shanks continued “I quite easily could have seen myself responding to that question in a similar sort of vein: “I’m not particularly concerned about any specific aspect of content. I don’t have kids and I’m not a kid myself, so fine”. So that’s okay. That’s absolutely fine. It’s increasingly obvious that the real area to focus on is with young people themselves.”

The Cinema Census results certainly vary by age, reflecting restricted access to films for under-18s and parental concerns for 36-year-olds:

Under-18s – 57.2% pay attention to classifications.
18-year-olds to 25-year-olds – 26.7%
26-year-olds to 35-year-olds – 19.6%
36-year-olds to 45-year-olds – 66.7%
46-year-olds to 55-year-olds – 39.3%
56-year-olds to 65-year-olds – 40.4%
Over-65s – 48% pay attention

We discuss the findings in detail with the Chief Censor, including some of the common responses when people completing the Cinema Census were asked to explain why they do, or do not, pay attention to classifications. You can read the full interview here, or scroll on for a selection of those responses, grouped into categories seen throughout Census answers.

In the spirit of the topic at hand, we offer a note that some of these quotes contain strong language…


I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because I am an adult

“I am 22 so no age restrictions prevent me from seeing films, I watch if the film looks interesting regardless of content warning.”

“Because they have no relevance to me. I will watch any, and everything. I’ve even watched Salo…”

“Because I’ve no problem with explicit content personally, and my taste tilts towards darker content (I also don’t like to know what I’m getting into for the surprise/immersion factor).”

“Nothing really bothers me anymore.”

“Don’t really have any triggers tbh.”

“Because I feel mature enough to handle a lot of content. My parents trust that I am sensible with my choices.”

“I’m not a soft cock. I won’t be offended easily.”

“We grew up watching all sorts of movies & I turned out fine.”

“I am interested in the content and the story, not how many times an actors says “oh darn!””

“I’m an adult, I am legally allowed to watch all films so it doesn’t matter as much what the classifications are. Plus its more of a surprise.”

“I am old enough and open-minded to see these points as simple facts of life and items that are intrinsic to our society. It would be foolish to pretend these things don’t happen and that we cannot learn from their storytelling.”

“I’m not sensitive to any content, and the broad classifications are usually unhelpful in accurately describing the content of the movie.”

“Age recommendations are for people younger than me and other warnings generally go hand in hand with the types of movies I prefer ie. horror, action etc.”

“It’s important to show some things to encourage discussion even if they’re not for everyone. As long as it has passed the nz censor I’m okay with it. In saying that I generally stay away from horror.”

“I’m not easily phased/triggered by content. There are some films I decide I don’t want to see but not for generic warnings, more for specific knowledge I’ve learned about a film/production that I find disturbing or distasteful.”

‘I’m an adult. Stop treating me like a fucken child.”

I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because I choose what movies to watch by other means

“I don’t like films with a lot of drug use but I would rely more on the synopsis and trailer to weed [lol – Ed.] that sort of stuff out.”

“I am a mature audience and you generally have an idea of what you’re getting into from the trailers, even before you see the rating, so I would only take it into account if I was a) with someone younger or b) with someone who I needed to make sure wouldn’t be triggered by these issues.”

“They aren’t visible enough, like wallpaper, and I get a feel of the content from the trailer.”


I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because I don’t want them to spoil the movie

“Usually I want what happens in the movie to be a surprise, and when it says that something from those content rules are in it it can be a spoiler. And the age restrictions aren’t really a problem for me.”

“I don’t want spoilers and they are a form of that ie A Star is Born went to it before they put the suicide in the rating and had no idea it was coming.”

“I don’t like to look at the classification notes because I feel like it could potentially ruin parts of the movie (like the recent A Star is Born debacle).”


I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because classifications might not help when streaming movies

“I am an adult and have usually seen the trailer/read reviews so I already know the type of content to expect. Streaming service ratings are not always the NZ ratings.”

“Netflix doesn’t push so much the rating info.”


I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because I’m critical of  the classifications system

“Fuck censorship.”

“Some of the ratings are just silly so I just as a blanket rule don’t pay attention.”

“Because films should be about exploring even the darkest of things in producing in message. Warnings like that dilute the message.”

“No organization should censor expression, or consumption of it.”

“I don’t overly trust ratings bodies to make the right decisions on what is deemed extreme or inappropriate content.”

“I think the censorship people are out of touch with modern sensibilities.”

“Cause im not a leftie sjw pc idiot who needs a safe space.”

“Because fuck the ratings regime for choking physical media to death and blocking access to so many movies.”

“Why would I consider it. I can make my own decisions, not some stuffy cardigan-wearing censor.”


I don’t pay attention to movie classifications because I don’t need to (but maybe I actually do pay attention)

“We are over 18 (my partner and I) and so we don’t really mind what the content of a film is. We watch both R18 and PG13 films – it just depends on the story and how much we want to see it! The only thing I check for is rape scenes as I refuse to watch them – they are very triggering.”

“Don’t need to. Only take note if it is R16+ for violence and check how bad it is.”


I pay attention to movie classifications because the movie may be triggering for me

“Some triggers I have.”

“I find some topics triggering and prefer to avoid watching films about said subject.”

“I use the content notes to check for things that may be triggering for me (specifically content relating to suicide generally).”

“My PTSD gets easily triggered by violence so it’s a heavy consideration. Not worried about sex though.”

“Because I find movies can have triggering content and I’m okay with it if I am making an informed choice.”

“I tend to check warnings for things like sexual assault so I’m in the right headspace to watch.”

“Not watching A Star is Born because of the suicide in it, which is how my brother died.”


I pay attention to movie classifications because the movie might be triggering or unsuitable for other people

“It’s important to have classification information so that people will know what to expect, like some kind of trigger warning.”

“In case there is young children with me like my siblings.”

“If I am watching with other people, especially my younger siblings at home, I have to be considerate and not expose them to mature content if they’re too young.”

“Because I wouldn’t want my mokos to watch those scene that are not good for them.”

“Foul language kills the buzz, unexpected nudity is embarrassing watching with a group.”

“If I’m watching with friends who struggle with mental health then I wouldn’t choose to watch anything with suicide in it (or other related topics) as this could be very hard for them. I also don’t enjoy movies with many sex scenes.”

“I am old enough to watch whatever now, but I think content warnings for things like suicide can be important because they can be very triggering for some people, especially if it comes out of the blue.”

“I work at a Cinema, so am aware of classifications due to law. There enforcement when minors or children attend the cinema, is simply common sense.”

“I personally am fine with whatever rating the movie has earned, but I dont want to be watching something like Blue Is the Warmest Colour and have my family walk in when I am watching it.”


I pay attention to movie classifications because they can help to choose a movie

“Sometimes a film’s subject matter is best served by R-rated material and a more family-friendly rating would make me suspicious (e.g. a supposedly terrifying horror film with a PG rating I might be dubious about). Otherwise I don’t care.”

“Usually better if it has adult themes.”

“I’m 47 years old. Unless I’m hearing it’s amazing I’m not seeking G/PG movies.”

“It gives me a sense of what sort of film it is but is not determinative.”


I pay attention to movie classifications because… just because!

“It’s there for a reason!”

“Only takes a few seconds to read.”

“Just don’t usually bother altho am glad A Star is Born got a warning bc that really shocked me the first time I saw it.”

“I’m not someone that needs a lot of content warnings but I think they’re really useful and in the future I might rely on them more. Often the ratings seem pretty generic.”

“I pay particular attention to it now because I have been exposed to understanding NZ approach to censorship. I hadn’t paid attention prior to this.”

“NZ is the only country I know that rates with suicide, which I really appreciate as it’s affected our family.”

“Ratings are there for a reason brother.”