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What does M mean?

Image of M classification label

Updated: 27 May 2015

A film (or a game) with an M label can be sold or supplied to anyone. It is an unrestricted classification. This page explains what the M label means using M films as an example, but it is important to remember that M means the same thing whether it's on a film, a DVD, an online film, a game, or an online television episode.

The M label indicates that the film is more suited to a mature audience.

Films with an M label will contain storylines and subject matter that is targeted at an older audience, and therefore M films will contain stronger material than those which carry a PG classification.

When considering whether or not to take children to an M classified film it is also a good idea to read the descriptive note which accompanies the classification. This will give you an indication of the sorts of content that will be included. Content in an M film may include such things as violence, sexual references, offensive language and drug use. It is also a good idea to consider the target audience that the film was made for.

Our research shows that many people don't know what the M label means

In the Office's 2011 research Understanding the Classification System: New Zealanders' views it was noted that only 61% of New Zealanders knew what the M classification label means. Thirty–four percent had an incorrect understanding of the label while 5% were unsure of its meaning.

A good way to remember the meaning of classification labels is to think of them like a traffic light:

How does a film get an M classification?

Under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, films which receive an unrestricted classification (G, PG, or M) in Australia are automatically cross-rated to receive the same classification in New Zealand. This process is carried out by the Film and Video Labelling Body. Therefore the majority of unrestricted films do not come to the Classification Office.

Recent films classified M by the Office of Film and Literature Classification

Recent films cross-rated M by the Film and Video Labelling Body

If you see an M film and do not think that the label is suitable contact the Classification Office.

For more information about the classification system contact our Information Unit.

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