Northern Ireland news

Cinema chain launches bid to overturn 15 rating for The Batman

Robert Pattinson in The Batman
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A cinema chain owner has launched a bid to overturn the 15 age rating for the new Batman movie.

Michael McAdam, managing director of the Movie House chain in Northern Ireland, said cinema staff had faced abuse from parents in recent years because younger teenage children are not permitted to watch movies with a 15 classification.

He said a new 15A classification would allow parents to make the decision and accompany their children to the cinema.

The 15A classification is not offered in the UK and the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has given The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, a 15 rating.

The movie has been given a 15A classification in the Republic and Mr McAdam said it made no sense that families could drive across the border to watch a movie their children are not permitted to watch in Northern Ireland.

He has written to Belfast City Council asking officials to overrule the 15 rating handed down by the BBFC for cinemas in its area.

He said: “All films are classified by the BBFC and that applies and is enforced by councils across the United Kingdom.

“Because each council grants us our licence the council has the right if they choose to overrule a decision taken by the BBFC.

“I have written to Belfast City Council to say The Batman is coming in March.

“My staff have had to take abuse from the parents who are totally frustrated by the fact that when they come to the cinema we then have to challenge them about the age of their child. That is when the abuse begins.

“We have had this issue on several films over the past year.

“The Irish censor has given this film a 15A, which means if you live in Northern Ireland and your children want to go and see this film you can jump in the car and drive to Dundalk or Letterkenny and watch the exact same film that your children cannot watch in Northern Ireland.

“I am saying that is crazy.

“The world has changed in the past two years. In five or six weeks’ time the film will be on Amazon or Sky Movies and you will be able to watch it with your family in your house. That is grossly unfair.

“It is not fair to cinema operators, it is not fair to the general public and responsible parents who are taking the time and trouble to take their children out.

“That is why I have asked the council on this occasion to overturn this.

“I think a 15A makes an awful lot of sense, it gives the warnings about what the film content is and then parents can make the choice about whether their children can see it or not.”

The issue is due to be considered by the council’s Licensing Committee on Wednesday evening.

Belfast city councillor Brian Heading said it was very unusual for such a request to be made of the council.

He added: “I watched the trailer and it is a bit rough. I was planning to bring my grandson to it, he is a Batman fanatic, but you couldn’t bring him anywhere near the thing.

“It is fairly violent, very dark.

“The committee will get a report from the officers which will give a legal background to what powers the committee has.

“The question is, has the committee even watched the film?”

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