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Blockbuster, MPAA Ratings, and Censorship Myths

Inexplicably, Blockbuster's management has done very little to dispel some common, harmful myths about the company. In the interest of knowledge and rumor control, here are the facts.

The Ratings Myth
An odd myth about Blockbuster is that they do not carry Unrated movies. The truth is that while Blockbuster generally does not carry NC-17 and X movies, they do carry many Unrated movies. Here’s the official word from Blockbuster on this issue.

Question: What movie ratings does BLOCKBUSTER carry?

Answer: All films carried by BLOCKBUSTER carry ratings that have been established by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. In order to provide a wholesome environment for you and your family, we generally do not carry films with ratings of NC-17 or X.

The Censorship Myth
The most bizarre myth about Blockbuster is that they edit objectionable content from movies. The truth is that Blockbuster movies are not censored. Here’s the official word from Blockbuster on this issue.

Question: Does BLOCKBUSTER edit its movies?

Answer: No, BLOCKBUSTER does not edit the content of its films. We offer all movies for rental or sale the way we receive them from the studios.

These peculiar myths seem to be everywhere. Even David Pogue with The New York Times repeated these myths in one of his articles in April.

The strangest thing about these myths is they are incredibly easy to check with just a few minutes of simple research. For example, search for, the movie specifically mentioned in the New York Times article, Y Tu Mama Tambien at,,, etc. You will find that there are two major versions of Y Tu Mama Tambien in the United States: an R version (100 mins) and an Unrated version (105 mins). You will also find that Blockbuster carries both versions, and the running times are consistent.

Continue searching for other titles on your own. You will find that Blockbuster carries many Unrated movies and clearly does not appear to be editing content. If you have any specific evidence to the contrary, please post it here.

R Version

Unrated Version


Anonymous said...

Actually online Blockbuster not carry the unrated versions of some movies but redirects you to franchises that may carry. Look for A Tale of Two Sisters Unrated version if u don't believe me

Anonymous said...

um...yeah they do.

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster and Netflix are two different species entirely. Blockbuster's focus is obviously family entertainment and the mr/miss ordinary so it obviously skips racy or obscure content. Netflix, however, leaps ahead by significantly developing it's unrated, independent and foreign movie line - just do a number count on Hindi movies in the Netflix library - sheesh! (upwards of a few hundred to a thousand or more...)

If you are an artsy type or English is not your native tongue, you obviously need to patronize Netflix.

If you are going out with your girlfriend on a Friday night to pick up a major motion picture, you need to stick with Blockbuster.

Anonymous said...

Try 'Shortbus' - actually a pretty good movie, and Gore Vidal's 'Caligula'- while I still had a Blockbuster account a few years ago, I rented 'Caligula' and was surprised that it was an edited version, even marked as such on the case. Netflix has both (obviously) unrated versions. There was a disclaimer under Blockbuster's rental policy when I had it a few years ago about acceptable content. It was true that blockbuster never censored movies, they merely either received an edited version from the studio or would not stock the movie. Maybe this has changed now.

Anonymous said...

"The truth is that. . .Blockbuster generally does not carry NC-17 and X movies." Is that not sensorship?

Editor said...

Refusal to carry specific titles is not actually censorship. It is simply stocking policy. You cannot force any non-government entity to accept and offer all content. Just as your family grocery store probably chooses not to stock Playboy, Blockbuster has chosen not to stock many movies with controversial content. It is just business. Blockbuster wants a family image and family clientele, so they choose not to risk offending the largest portions of their customer base. If you owned a book store, would you want someone coming in and demanding that you stock every title in print, or would you want to have the freedom to stock the books most of your customers would want to buy?

Now, if Blockbuster were editing movies without notifying customers, that would be a different story, but no one has ever offered any hard evidence that Blockbuster edits movies. If Blockbuster Underground ever uncovers evidence that Blockbuster has actually censored portions of a movie without notifying the customers, it will be front-page news on this Web site. For now, it appears Blockbuster is just being picky about which titles they offer. It is silly, but it is their business.

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster DOES edit their exclusive Dimension /Weinstein Bros. titles- Just look for "Inside" or the newly released "Mother of Tears". Both horror titles are EDITED to an "R" rating while they can only be purchased UNRATED at any store you go to! Get them at Netflix to avoid this blatant form of BB CENSORSHIP!!!!

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous Netflix Shill,

I hate to defend a lousy company like Blockbuster, but your comment is full of errors and misconceptions.

You must not understand censorship. Blockbuster is a retailer, and if they choose to buy edited versions of movies, it is not the same as actually editing movies themselves. If Dimension/Weinstein Bros. chooses to compromise their artistic integrity or infringe upon the visions of other artists for the sake of increased sales, that is the studio’s failure.

By the way, on Amazon, the Unrated version of Mother of Tears (2007) has a running time of 102 minutes. The R-rated version of Mother of Tears offered by Blockbuster Online is also listed as 102 minutes. Exactly which scenes do you suspect have been cut from this movie? Please be very specific in your answer. Many serious film buffs frequent this site and will be very interested in your details.

Blockbuster Online offers Inside (2007) with the version listed as NR. The running time is listed at 82 minutes, which matches Wikipedia. IMDb lists the Unrated version as 83 minutes. Blockbuster, Wikipedia, and IMDb all have the USA R-rated version listed with a running time of 75 minutes. Please, again, let us know specifically what you think has been edited from Blockbuster’s version of this particular movie. The film enthusiasts would love these juicy details. If you wish to have people believe your charges, you are going to have to back up your statements with actual facts.

Also, how can these two movies be Blockbuster exclusives if they are available at Netflix, Amazon, and “any store” as you claim?

Anonymous said...

For info on "Inside" and the Blockbuster censorship of it, please click on this link!

Anonymous said...

More info on "inside"-read and enjoy!

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous:

Your referenced article at Cinematical states, “They [Blockbuster] did not actually cut the film, though: that comes courtesy of Dimension Extreme, which submitted an edited version to the MPAA and secured an R-rating…”

Based on your source, Dimension Extreme is the one who chopped up your film. Dimension Extreme is the entity who is at fault here. They chose to tamper with art for the sake of profit, and they are the ones to blame. Any person or company who purchases edited movies may be guilty of poor taste, but that does not make the purchaser or vendor guilty of censorship.

Anonymous said...

Netflix offers a better selection for EVERYONE. Netflix has a huge selection of "family friendly" movies available. Netflix also respects its customers; when they screw up they give their customers refunds without anyone having to ask.

Blockbusters does not edit movies, but they do choose to stock edited versions of movies, such as Caligula. By limiting its inventory like this it cannot compete with the freedom of choice netflix has to offer. Couple that with their history of screwing customers with fees, poor website design, aweful turn around times, and their general we dont care about the customer attitude... Well, I hope the current economy eats them alive.

Want the ultimate in diverse selection that will please the kids, the girlfriend, your sick self, , your mother, and your holy roller aunt? Then you want netflix.

Rupert Murder said...

I had only half-believed these rumors before renting what would be my last movie from blockbuster...I had seen the movie "BULLY" before, and was intrigued by the movies gritty, straight-forward retelling of the disturbing actual events on which it was based. However, upon watching the blockbuster copy, I was angered to see that the film was cut up to the point where the storyline was actually muddied. Just to be sure, I took note of the cover and later compared the two, finding them to be identical on the surface.
In addition, after talking with numerous individuals on the topic, I have heard many accounts of similar experiences...the movies "Gummo" and "Angel Heart" are two specifics that I recall discussing, but personally have only witnessed the one example. One instance was all it took for me to boycott the company, though.

Editor said...

There are at least two versions of Bully (2001). There is a theatrical release R-Rated version (109 mins.) and an Unrated version (113 mins.). You never specified what version(s) you saw. Do you think you just saw the two versions of the film?

Do you have any verifiable evidence that Blockbuster has ever carried edited versions of Gummo (1997) or Angel Heart (1987) that were not available to the general public at some point? If so, please share it.

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