In 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America replaced the so-called Code Hays, instituted in the 1930s to enforce moral guidelines on cinematic content, with its own rating system – ushering in the era of R-rated film.
An R rating, which could be applied to a movie for a combination of violence, nudity, sex, bad language, or drug addiction, meant that under 16s were off limits unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian (age was later changed to 17). The first title to achieve such a high rating was the 1968 noir thriller “The Split,” About A Theft Goes Wrong. However, previous blood-soaked classics like “Bonnie & Clyde” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” got an R retroactively.
Late 1960s features like “Easy Rider” and “The Wild Bunch” – both rated R – also made up the explicit content and mature themes. Quickly and gloriously, a new era of American cinema, effectively freed from censorship, was taking shape. Check out the best R rated movies of all time.
Step forward a few decades and R-rated content is more or less ubiquitous on screens large and small. Not only that, but the limits of scoring have been pushed to the limit. It also emerged a huge list of R-rated blockbusters, many of which received rave reviews. From “The Godfather” to “300” to “Deadpool” and its popular sequel, these films have pulled a few punches on the road to massive success. (Speaking of “Deadpool” – these are the highest grossing movies in the Marvel Universe.)
Click here to see the most successful R-rated movies of all time
Which have been the most successful of all? To determine the most successful R-rated movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo looked at box office and production budget data from Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Although both domestic and global box office are given, the films have been ranked based on lifetime global box office earnings in June 2021, adjusted for inflation.