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R18 for Don't Breathe upheld on review

22 September 2016

The Film and Literature Board of Review has today upheld the Chief Censor's R18 classification of the Sony Pictures film, Don't Breathe, due to hit cinemas this week. The classification also carries the warning "Contains violence, sexual violence and offensive language".

Sony Pictures appealed the Chief Censor's decision to the Film and Literature Board of Review, and made a submission for a lower classification. Film distributors who disagree with a decision by the Chief Censor (head of the Classification Office) have the right to appeal the decision to the Board of Review.

In its decision, the Board of Review noted that their consideration of the movie comes shortly after the government's announcement that domestic violence in New Zealand "is at such a level and of such concern that significant political and social measures are necessary to address this problem."

"Movies which depict extreme violence and sexual violence towards women are of concern to New Zealand society as a whole," it reads.

Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack welcomes the Board of Review decision, stating that it helps increase New Zealanders’ awareness of violent entertainment and supports their right to choose what they and their families are exposed to.

Don't Breathe is a suspenseful horror/thriller and focuses on the fear and desperation of young adults held captive and fighting to stay alive.

In its submission, Sony said they did not agree with the original descriptive note, assigned by the Classification Office, that the movie contained "sexual violence". Sony stated there was "no sexual violence" in the film. They sought an RP15 classification.

Dr Jack says the Classification Office is viewing an increasing amount of horrific and gratuitous sexual violence in mainstream entertainment targeting young people. "Violent media is helping to shape a violent New Zealand," says Dr Jack.*

"Parents tell us that they need guidance and information more than ever and 92 percent of Kiwis think classifications are important when choosing entertainment media for children and teens."

The Board of Review's decision regarding Don't Breathe closely follows the Chief Censor's decision to raise the classification of Suicide Squad from M (anyone of any age can view it) to R13.

Board of Review's decision on the film Don't Breathe (PDF, 178KB)

Original decision by the Classification Office on the film Don't Breathe (PDF, 104KB)

Classification Office's submission to the Board of Review (PDF, 351KB)

Note to Editors:

Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack is available for interviews.

* Copies of research which explore the link between violent media and violent attitudes and behaviours are available on request.