Movie theatre managers have a legal responsibility to enforce age restrictions on films, St James Theatre manager Peter Cairns says.
Mr Cairns said movies and videos were classified and labelled before release and those classifications had to be adhered to.
He wanted to educate people about the system in the wake of several inquiries by parents wanting to take their children to a film with an older classification such as R18.
“We get comments from parents [such as] ‘I’m here, I don’t mind them coming’ [to the movie],” Mr Cairns said.
There was no provision under the law to allow parents or guardians to take underage children into films with an age category.
The Office of Film and Literature classified films before release, he said.
The age restrictions on films did not vary from theatre to theatre – they were the same nationwide, Mr Cairns said.
There were legal ramifications for theatres. The penalties were harsher than those imposed when liquor outlets sold alcohol to underage customers, Mr Cairns said.
“There is a reason for these restrictions.”
The classification took into account content and context throughout the film.
Trailers for films only provided a snippet to the viewer and those trailers were often classified as an M rating, he said.
“The law’s the law.”
Anyone who supplies restricted movies or video games to someone underage can be fined $10,000.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification states other penalties include three months’ imprisonment and the person’s employer can be fined $25,000.
Underage people are not exempt from age restrictions even if accompanied by a parent or guardian.