Saturday, March 31, 2007

Other Voices / Ain't It Cool News and Huffington Post

Moriarty at Ain't It Cool News has written a fascinating editorial here: that reflects the way many of us feel about this issue.

Also, Harry Knowles, Moriarty and the whole Ain't It Cool News crew have linked this site to theirs, so people can come here and look at what we're about. Our thanks to all of them.

The Huffington Post has also linked to us, and provided us a place to talk about this and present our position: Our thanks to them as well.

We continue discussing this issue in the "Discuss" section below. If you're here to see what all the fuss is about, we hope you'll check it out and make up your own mind.

Friday, March 30, 2007


FYI for everyone following this situation -- this is the press release issued by the MPAA yesterday regarding the ratings process for "CAPTIVITY".

Although this is a victory for us -- we're definitely being heard -- it's also only an interim step. It matters that we continue to be heard on this issue, and continue making our arguments to the MPAA as the process moves forward.

From: MotionPictureAssociation
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 1:40 PM

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Los Angeles – The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) today issued a month-long suspension of the ratings process for After Dark Films’ upcoming release “Captivity.” The action comes in response to After Dark’s prominent display in both Los Angeles and New York of advertising that the MPAA had explicitly disapproved as inappropriate for general public viewing. The production company and its distributors will also be required to clear not only all promotional materials but also the locations and venues of all advertising buys relating to the film, marking the first time that sanction has been imposed by the MPAA.

“The sanctions in this case are severe because this was an unacceptable and flagrant violation of MPAA rules and procedures,” said Marilyn Gordon, Senior Vice President of Advertising. “After Dark Films presented their ads for approval, as all companies are required to do if they wish to receive an MPAA rating. However, their ads were summarily rejected for their graphic depiction of a woman’s torture and death. Yet After Dark proceeded to post them on billboards anyway, and these ads appeared in some of the most prominent public locations in Los Angeles and New York . It is now up to After Dark Films to restore good faith with the MPAA.”

All films that seek an MPAA rating are required to clear with the MPAA all promotional materials that will be publicly displayed, whether in print, on television, in theaters or online. “MPAA reviews tens of thousands of promotional materials each year,” Gordon added. “Our rules are important to movie-goers generally and parents in particular. The good news is that - as disturbing as this case has been - it marks a rare instance where a company has acted in such a clear and direct violation of our rules. The overwhelming majority of companies and filmmakers understand, support and abide by MPAA rules and procedures.”

As a result of the ruling, “Captivity” will not be eligible for consideration by the ratings board until on or after May 1, 2007 and will be given no priority scheduling at that time.

About the MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries from its offices in Los Angeles and Washington , D.C. Its members include: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; Paramount Pictures; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLLP; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Discuss, discuss, discuss...

For those of you just joining us, the below posts contain all the information about our campaign and why it exists.

And for those already caught up, let's confine the discussion to the comments section of this post.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Introduction: Why We're Here

A group of us got together a few nights ago to discuss our frustration with the ad campaign for CAPTIVITY. We were angered by the use of public space for images that were so clearly violent and extreme.

We weren't alone; blogs, livejournals and websites have been ablaze with criticism about the campaign since it went up. People were frustrated, offended, angry, outraged -- not only by the campaign, but by the very questionable "we had no idea!" response from the people who should have been responsible. There was a lot of energy and will to do something --but no one was sure what.

We decided to do something about that.

What we're suggesting below is simple: REMOVE THE RATING.

The MPAA didn't approve this ad campaign. On the contrary, they said it violated their guidelines. But it went up anyway. For ignoring the standards set by the MPAA, we think the only consequence that matters is the one the MPAA can levy -- withholding or removing the rating of the film.

Unrated films cannot be shown in most major theaters. Most major publications will not advertise for an unrated film. Many rental agencies, like BLOCKBUSTER, will not carry an unrated film. It's possible that the makers of CAPTIVITY will find they can make no money at all from their film.

Intentionally or not (you decide) the makers and advertisers of CAPTIVITY generated a great deal of free publicity by putting up those ads, offending people, and then taking them down. They are no doubt hoping that will translate to money when the movie comes out. That's why REMOVING THE ADS IS NOT ENOUGH. The only thing that will dissuade this kind of behavior in the future is for it to be made unprofitable.

So we're asking you to help us do that.

Read the letter, see what you think. If you agree with what we're saying, then do one or all of these three things:

1. Call the MPAA. Read the text of the letter if you like.

2. Email the MPAA. Cut and paste this letter or write your own.

3. Snail mail the MPAA. Yes, people still do that. Letterhead is always a cool thing.

Contact info for the MPAA is below the letter. And if you haven't seen the actual ad campaign yet, here's a link. (These images aren't kid safe.)

We're committed to the First Amendment and artistic freedom. This isn't about that. It's about the use (and misuse) of public space for images that aren't appropriate -- or approved -- for that space.

Thanks for dropping by.

Action Letter

March 21, 2007

Dan Glickman
15503 Ventura Boulevard
Encino, CA 91436

Dear Mr. Glickman,

We are writing to you to ask that the MPAA take meaningful action against filmmakers Courtney Solomon and After Dark by removing the rating for the film Captivity, to be distributed in home video by Lions Gate, as a consequence of its recent offensive and unapproved ad campaign.

Solomon and After Dark created billboards with a woman in four stages of degradation, with the words ABDUCTION, CONFINEMENT, TORTURE and TERMINATION across four graphic images of actress Elisha Cuthbert gagged, caged, encased in a mask with tubes draining blood from her nostrils, and finally, laying backwards dead, her breast highlighted for maximum effect. This imagery was on display in front of millions, all over Los Angeles and New York, often visible from schoolyards, for eight days.

As you know, the MPAA expressly did not approve this campaign at an in-person meeting the week prior to the billboards' appearance. The MPAA's stated consequence for violating their rules is the removal of a film's rating. We ask that you withhold a rating for Captivity to send a clear signal that advertisers will face serious consequences if they promote their films with images of violence and misogyny in public spaces. Without a rating, After Dark will not be able to show the film in American theaters, causing a loss of revenue-the only consequence that is truly meaningful to studios and advertisers.

To be clear, we do not wish to limit freedom of expression, nor stop these types of films from being made. We believe in First Amendment rights, but we believe withholding a rating is an entirely appropriate response to this outrageous violation of basic public standards of decency.

This incident has reaffirmed our belief that all R- and X-rated imagery should be prohibited from public spaces, such as billboards and bus and taxi cards. If people under 17 cannot see these images in movie theaters, they certainly should not see them on the street. Filmgoers have a right to watch whatever they like in theaters or in the privacy of their homes, but as marketers try to push limits and skirt authority in an effort to generate attention, we must draw a line.

Thank you.

Jill Soloway
Lindsey Horvath, Hollywood NOW
Laeta Kalogridis
Michelle Golland
Patti Giggans and J.P. Kinesheda, Peace Over Violence
Julie Hermelin
Andrea Newman
Jennifer Robinson
Marti Noxon Bynum
Elizabeth Dennehy
Heather Repenning


Remember: these folks tried to stop this from going up. We're asking them to ally with us in assuring there's a meaningful consequence to the CAPTIVITY billboards.

Motion Picture Association of America

Office of the Chairman and CEO
Washington, DC
1600 Eye St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-1966 (main)
(202) 296-7410 (fax)

Los Angeles
15503 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, California 91436
(818) 995-6600 (main)
(818) 382-1795 (fax)

Email address:

(For all emails, please put in subject line "CAPTIVITY BILLBOARDS/REMOVE THE RATING" )