BBFC reveals its most complained about film ratings of 2019

Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
·3-min read
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker (Warner Bros.)
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker (Warner Bros.)

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has published its annual statement which reveals the film classifications that prompted the most public complaints. The BBFC is responsible for making decisions on age ratings for film, TV and online content.

Todd Phillips’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, was the most complained-about rating of last year having been classified a 15 for “strong bloody violence and language”.

The board received 20 complaints about the age rating for the DC Comics adaptation, objecting to its classification which meant it was suitable for anyone aged 15 and over.

“Several stated that we should have classified the film 18 because of violence and the film’s tone,” the report reveals. “A small number felt that the film should be banned.”

Read more: Joker coming to Sky Cinema in August

In justifying the rating the BBFC says: “there are scenes of strong violence in the film that include stabbings and shootings, with accompanying bloody injury detail. They do not, however, dwell on the infliction of pain or injury in a manner that requires an 18.”

Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips' <i>Joker</i>. (Warner Bros.)
Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips' Joker. (Warner Bros.)

The independent body submits the report to the Secretary of State annually and in the latest edition, under the accountability section, it reveals it received 149 complaints covering 70 films which is says is “fewer than half the number of complaints received in 2018.”

Elsewhere on the list, the animated kids film The Queen’s Corgi – rated PG – received five complaints about sexual references and animal cruelty.

Read more: Dark Knight actor brands Joker ‘nasty’

“While there is mild comic innuendo in the film, it occurs in a comic context and is acceptable at PG,” the BBFC explains. “While we operate strict policies around the inclusion of real animal cruelty in films, no animals were harmed in the making of the film.”

The Queen’s Corgi caused complaints from filmgoers for being “inappropriate” for kids when it was released in July, 2019. It features a scene in which President Donald Trump (voiced by Jon Culshaw) makes a joke about grabbing “some puppy”, seemingly in reference to the infamous recording of Trump in 2005, telling television host Billy Bush: ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y.’

The other ratings that received the most complaints were:

  • The Favourite (15) - 12 complaints for its use of language, sex references and sex.

  • John Wick: Chapter Three - Parabellum (15) - Nine complaints over the violence in the film.

  • Alita: Battle Angel (12A) - Five complained about the violence and infrequent strong language.

  • Fighting With My Family (12A)/Holmes and Watson (12A) - Five complaints each focusing on language and sex references, which BBFC defends as being “infrequent innuendo”.

  • Bumblebee (PG) - Four complaints regarding language and violence.

  • Shazam! (12A) - Four complaints regarding bad language and scenes of horror.

Read the full BBFC report here.