Movie Editor's Blog

Movie Editor's Blog

The most horrific films accidentally screened to kids

Age certificates exist for a reason. Got a talking animal? Stamp it with a U. Got a blood-soaked corpse? Better not.

Film classification exists to protect kids from violence, gore and sexiness. But human error sometimes defeats the BBFC, with bungling cinema staff accidentally exposing youngsters to filth several times in the past few years.

[Related story: Cinema shows Paranormal Activity instead of Madagascar 3]
[Related story: Parents' shock as Django Unchained trailer shown before Brave]

Here's just a few recent examples of inappropriate films that SOMEHOW got screened to little ones. Projectionists, look away now...

Think of the children!... kids, cover your eyes (Credit: Rex Features)

‘Django Unchained’ instead of ‘Brave’

Going to watch a Pixar film is like getting a warm cinematic hug. Going to watch a Tarantino film is, for want of a better word, not. Just last week at a Saturday morning showing of ‘Brave’, rated PG, a cinema full of families were shown the trailer for Tarantino’s controversial Oscar nominated offering ‘Django Unchained’. The violent promo, which includes Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and a numerous dead cowboys, apparently left children terrified at Birmingham’s Giant Screen cinema, causing families to hastily make for the door. Trailers for ‘Die Hard 5’ and ‘Iron Man 3’ were also in the accidental line-up. The cinema blamed its digital system.

Face of evil... Leo's racist slave owner, and Brave's charming heroine (Credit: Sony/Disney)

‘Paranormal Activity 4’ instead of ‘Madagascar 3’

‘Madagascar 3’ wasn’t great, but here’s no need to cry about it. That is unless it’s not the film you actually watched. Last October a packed family screening of the animated animal caper was accidentally shown the opening of ‘Paranormal Activity 4’, resulting in a ‘screaming evacuation’ of the Nottingham Cineworld auditorium. Luckily, parents managed to inform staff and the projection was stopped... but not before children as young as five had already seen a bloodied corpse thrown towards them.

Mix-up... kids watched Paranormal sequel instead of Madagascar 3 (Credit: Paramount)

‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ instead of ‘Puss in Boots’

At another Cineworld last year, children waiting to see furry ginger ‘Shrek’ spin-off ‘Puss In Boots’ were wrongly shown trailers meant for 15 rated ‘Underworld: Awakening’. The promos at the chain’s Wandsworth complex included Nicolas Cage vehicle ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance’, and the genuinely creepy trailer for ‘The Devil Inside’. Panicked parents shielded their children’s eyes as scenes of demonic possession and freak female contortions terrified the young audience. As if Nic Cage’s face wasn’t bad enough.

Cuddly... Puss in Boots, not Ghost Rider (Credit: Columbia Pictures/Dreamworks)

‘Saw 3D’ instead of ‘Megamind’

Nothing says “Happy seventh birthday!” like watching a man cauterise his own bloodied, hacked off leg, right? Well that’s how one unlucky child celebrated their special day back in 2010 when a Massachusetts Showcase Cinema accidentally projected ‘SAW 3D’, rather than DreamWork’s slightly less horrific ‘Megamind’. The unlucky group also got to see a woman ripped apart by a buzzsaw before staff realised their mistake. They won’t forget that birthday for a while.

Happy birthday... Saw 3D shown at party, instead of Megamind (Credit: Lionsgate/Paramount)

And the winner is... ‘The Hills Have Eyes 2’ instead of ‘The Last Mimzy’

“Chained naked woman gives birth to a mutant baby”. Now, what isn’t family friendly about that sentence? Children waiting to see family sci-fi ‘The Last Mimzy’ back in 2007, were instead shown the horrific pre-credits set piece of ‘The Hills Have Eyes 2’. Families watched in horror as a restrained naked woman gave birth to the bi-product of mutant rape, before being swiftly beaten to death. Lovely stuff.

Scared for life... Hills Have Eyes not for kids (Credit: Dune Entertainment/New Line)