Ted Baehr

The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six major movie studios in Hollywood and helps them beat their competition, was very excited this month about touting Hollywood's record-breaking year in 2007.

Figures released by the MPAA showed that worldwide box office totals increased 4.9 percent to $26.72 billion in 2007. In those totals, the domestic box office also set a record, increasing 5.4 percent to $9.629 billion.

These figures, however, do not reflect the underlying concern movie executives have in the overall decline in movie going in the United States. Total admissions in the United States and Canada increased only 0.3 percent in 2007, to 1.4 billion tickets sold. Also, that number represents a whopping 12 percent decline from Contemporary Hollywood's best year in 2002, when it sold 1.599 billion tickets.

Furthermore, the MPAA forgot to mention that annual movie admissions for the domestic box office in 2007 are still 29 percent below the 1.98 billion admissions in the middle 1960s, before the six major Hollywood studios' immoral ratings system (G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17) came into being and alienated family audiences and mainstream moviegoers.

Considering that the population in the United States and Canada has increased from about 210 million people to more than 336 million people, the number of ticket sales in North America has continued to drop — nearly 56 percent — since 1966, from 9.43 tickets sold per person to only about 4.17 tickets sold per person annually.

The situation is even worse if you go back to 1946, the heyday of the Golden Age of Hollywood, when 55 percent of the American population, about 78 million people, went to the movies every week, for about 4 billion ticket sales. Today, only between 27 percent and 30 percent of the American people go to movies every week.

In other words, the amount of movie admissions today has declined 66 percent, or two-thirds, since the heights of the Golden Age, when "Mr. Smith [Went] To Washington" and when George Bailey learned that "It's A Wonderful Life."

In 1993, with the Movieguide Report to the Entertainment Industry, we began to how various kinds of movies have translated into sales. We have seen a dramatic increase in family films with traditional moral values based on the Bible, and many more movies with Christian content. Since then, annual ticket sales for Hollywood have increased 27.4 percent.

Furthermore, recent studies by us and other organizations, including The Nielsen Co., show G-rated movies with no sex, foul language, explicit nudity nor graphic violence make at least 3 to 5 times more money per movie at the box office than R-rated movies.

Ted Baehr

Dr. Baehr is the founder and Publisher of Movieguide®: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment and Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission.