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  How Azkaban got its PG rating
Updated 07 June 2004, 10.24
Harry and Hermione
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is the organisation which gives films a rating eg PG, 12A, 15 and so on.

CBBC Newsround Online wanted to know how the Prisoner of Azkaban got its PG rating so we asked Helen Pang of the BBFC to give us the lowdown.

What did you look for when rating The Prisoner of Azkaban?

BBFC: In general, when we classify (or 'rate') a film or video, film examiners look out for issues such as bad language, violence, horror and drugs.

For a PG rating we allow violence only if there is no detail (eg swords through stomachs and lots of blood!).

But if the setting is fantasy or historical, then we sometimes allow a little more because viewers can see that it is not real or set in the present day.

Were any scenes cut in order to give it a PG rating?

BBFC: We did not need to cut any scenes from the film to give it a PG.

We were not so worried about the 'scary' scenes in Harry Potter, because most children will already have read the books and so will know what to expect in the film.

The dementors
The dementors
The scenes are also not so long as to be too scary and we know that Harry Potter isn't really going to come to any harm.

I hadn't read the books myself however, so the scene in which Professor Lupin changes into a werewolf and then fights with Sirius scared me (just a little!), as did the appearance of the Dementors.

There are always going to be a few children who are more sensitive and get upset by certain things.

But we also have to think about all the other children who will get much enjoyment out of seeing HP 3.

How many times did you have to watch it?

BBFC: Sometimes with big releases like the Harry Potter films, the distributor (the company who owns the film and then sells it to cinemas and shops in the UK) will ask the BBFC to do an 'advice viewing'.

Harry gets angry!
Harry gets angry!
The film might not even be completely ready (the computer generated effects may not have been added).

But one or two senior film examiners will watch it and suggest to the company what category the film will most likely get, based on what they have seen.

Then when the film is finished, maybe a few weeks or even months later, it will come back to the BBFC, to be seen by two film examiners, and the category is confirmed.

We usually watch films and videos in pairs, and it took two days to classify HP 3.

Were there any disagreements over the rating? What happens in this circumstance?

BBFC: There were no disagreements over the rating for HP 3, as all the examiners felt that the 'scary' scenes and mild bad language would be fine at PG.

If the two examiners in the team do disagree, for example if one examiner thought a film should be PG and the other thought it should be 12A, then the film is seen again by a second team of three examiners.

How did rating the 3rd Harry Potter film compare to rating 1 and 2?

BBFC: HP 1 was quite a light and easy film to watch, with less scary moments than HP 2, which I helped to classify.

Harry in Chamber of Secrets
Harry in Chamber of Secrets
The huge spiders and the fight scene between Harry and the basilisk towards the end of HP 2 were both strong moments and some examiners watching HP 3 thought that the second film was scarier.

The characters are also growing up, along with the Harry Potter fans, and the films are gradually becoming more intense. It was still an enjoyable and exciting film to watch though!

If you would like to learn more about film classification and other films that have been recently classified, click on the CBBFC link on the top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
Find OutOur guide to age-ratings
Find OutOur Potter special section
Find OutReview: Prisoner of Azkaban
ChatChat here about films
QuizAzkaban film quiz
ClubWhat is the point of age certificates on films?
ClubMy new movie ratings system idea


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Film fans spot errors in Azkaban
Azkaban breaks box office record
Azkaban is given a PG certificate


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