If you’re like a handful of parents from Grand Rapids, Michigan chances are you’ve complained more than once about the lack of family-friendly films at your local movie theater. According to Dick Rolfe, Dove Foundation cofounder and CEO, “We were frustrated because we felt inadequate to make selections on behalf of our children without watching the films themselves beforehand. And we didn’t trust the Motion Picture ratings; G, PG, PG-13 and R.”
So in 1990, Rolfe and several other parents started reviewing and assigning their own ratings to films. At first they just made a sort of laundry list of movies they liked and handed it out to friends, family and church members.
The list was a hit due to a national news story, and Rolfe received over 2,000 requests from families all across America for the list of approved movies.
He created the non-profit Dove Foundation dedicated to advocating for families and moving Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction.
The Dove reviews, posted online at www.dove.org, are based on traditional Judeo-Christian values. There is a content chart and descriptions that gauge six criteria: Sex, Language, Violence, Drug and alcohol use, Nudity, and Other. While Dove’s scorecard reviews online are what Dove is probably best known for, the Foundation is making waves behind the scenes, too.
“We commissioned an industry-wide study in 2012 that revealed the fact that over the previous 5 years, Hollywood produced 12 times more R rated movies than G. And yet, during that same period of time the average G rated film was 9 times more profitable than its R rated counterpart.” Rolfe sent a copy of the Film Profitability Study to every major studio exec in Hollywood…to show them that family movies can be profitable…and there is a large family audience out there waiting to get back in the theaters.
“Our influence with the movie studios has grown to the point where some films are sent to our Grand Rapids office well in advance of release, sometimes even in rough cut,” says Rolfe. “On a several occasions we have expressed concern about a few things we thought might offend the family audience. Studios cleaned them up and we were able to give them our Dove Seal.”
The Dove Seal was referred to by the late entertainment legend, Steve Allen as “the Good Housekeeping seal for family entertainment.”
The Dove website is visited by parents like Vickie Vermeer. She logs on to www.dove.org for guidance when it comes to choosing which movies her kids can see. Ten times out of ten she says she’ll trust Dove’s scorecard review over one written by a film critic in the general media.
“When we read a review in our local paper or in the NY Times, the reviewers are coming from a different perspective,” says Vermeer. “They’re looking more at the quality or artistic value of the film. They have more tolerance for the violence or language or sexual content for the movie; whereas The Dove Foundation’s guidelines are more in line with our own family’s values and that makes us feel comfortable when choosing our entertainment.”