The current rating system for movies was put into place in 1968 and slightly changed two years later. The goal was similar to earlier rating systems for the movie industry. Some content was not appropriate for any movies shown to the general public. Other content was appropriate based on age and parental decisions. The 1968 system relied on parental judgment more than any other single factor.
R-rated movies were officially described as “Restricted–Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.” These films were, and are, less likely to draw large audiences because much of the movie-going population is likely to avoid them.
24/7 Tempo picked the R-rated movie with the biggest box office sales. Dramas, action films and comedies are equally represented in the mix we considered, with a few sci-fi and romance films added. Theater traffic for R-rated fare is obviously growing. Of the 50 movies on a list of finalists for the distinction of highest-grossing R-rated films, only 12 are from the 20th century. The rest were released in 2000 or later.
To pick the R-rated film with the biggest box office, 24/7 Tempo considered 3,891 R-rated movies with box office data from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Production budgets also came from The Numbers. Principle cast and genre for each movie come from the Internet Movie Database, an online movie database owned by Amazon.
The highest-grossing R-rated movie is “The Passion of the Christ,” released in 2004. It had a domestic box office of $370.8 million and a production budget of $25 million. Directed by Mel Gibson, it starred Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern and Christo Jivkov.