If you’re a movie buff who has already set the PVR to record Sunday’s Oscars, you may be curious to learn a bit more about the Restricted Cougar – an iconic symbol of movies and entertainment that was created in BC more than 50 years ago.

In the 1960s, under the direction of BC Chief Censor R.W. (Ray) MacDonald, the Restricted Cougar was designed out of the increased public demand for movie classification information. MacDonald seized upon the idea of using a symbol that audiences could easily associate with the “Restricted” category and the cougar was chosen not only for its dramatic presence but also for its significance as the largest wild cat native to BC.

What was then the BC Film Classification Office launched a series of animated trailers starring the popular critter to alert audiences of the “Restricted” classification assigned to the film they were about to see. This direct method of informing viewers of the movie’s classification resulted in a significant drop in audience complaints.

In 1997, the Government of BC revised the province’s classification categories in order to be consistent with the newly developed Canadian Home Video Rating System. With this change, “18A” replaced “Restricted” and the cougar stepped down from its traditional role.

In 2007, Consumer Protection BC took over the responsibilities for the classification of movies you see in BC and Saskatchewan theatres. Today, the “Restricted” category still exists, but with a new function: it’s a special category for adult motion pictures with artistic, educational, scientific, historic or political merit. If you’ve been in a BC video store lately, chances are you’ve seen the cougar decal winking back at you on the covers of such titles as Crash, Irreversible and Requiem for a Dream.

To learn more about the Restricted Cougar, visit our website. I hope you’ve enjoyed your stroll down this red-carpet memory lane!


History of motion picture classification in BC
Movie Ratings: G, PG, 14A, 18A, what do they all mean?
Anatomy of a Motion Picture Classifier