Belfast Telegraph

Parents urged to check Joker movie age ratings as children turned away from cinemas

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker (Warner Bros Entertainment Inc/DC Comics/Niko Tavernise/PA)
Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker (Warner Bros Entertainment Inc/DC Comics/Niko Tavernise/PA)
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Parents need to be aware of the age ratings of films before sending their children to the cinema, the owner of Movie House Cinemas has warned.

Michael McAdam was speaking after a number of disappointed children were turned away from the Joker and It: Chapter Two films in recent weeks.

Films in the UK are awarded ratings by the British Board of Film Classification based on content raging from 'U' which means suitable for all to '18' which means suitable only for adults.

Joker is rated '15' and contains scenes of strong bloody violence including murder and language while It was also given a 15 rating due to strong gory violence, horror and language.

Mr McAdam, who runs Movie House Cinemas across Northern Ireland, said that cinemas were being forced to turn young people away due to age classifications.

"It's not just ourselves, it's every cinema in the UK," he explained.

"It's becoming a major problem, parents are bringing their children to the cinema to see a film and then being challenged over their age. It's not pleasant challenging parents or young people.

"Some parents may feel comfortable allowing their children to watch certain things in their own home but we can't do that, we are bound by the rules."

Mr McAdam said that any cinema allowing people to enter films underage could face penalties.

"We have responsibilities, cinemas are licensed by councils and any cinema found to be breaching the rules could lose their license," he explained.

James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough in IT Chapter Two
James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough in IT Chapter Two

"It's the same as the pub, you have to be eighteen to drink and it's the exact same for an 18 film.

"Parents may allow their child to have a shandy or a can of beer in the house before they turn 18, but they can't go drinking in a pub and it's the same here."

The cinema owner said he wanted to create some awareness around the issue.

"The last thing I want to see is disappointed families or children," Mr McAdam said.

"These films are given these ratings for a reason, it could be due to violence or sexual content or language that parents don't realise their children will be seeing.

"Anyone who wants to see these films will need to bring the relevant identification with them or they won't be allowed in."

The Joker has attracted controversy after it was claimed that its depiction of the main character could be seen as reminiscent of those who commit mass shootings in the United States.

Other critics have expressed concern that the sympathetic portrayal of the Joker, despite his actions as a psychopathic killer could inspire real world violence.

However other critics have defended the film and main actor Jaoquin Phoenix has been tipped for an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the lead character in the film which has broken box office records.

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