The Restricted Cougar

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©restricted cougar

While the “Restricted Cougar” is an iconic symbol of movies and entertainment, few people know that the restricted cougar is Canadian! It was created in British Columbia over 50 years ago.

Developed and used originally in BC in August 1960, the cougar was registered as a trademark on April 29, 1966 and is protected by the Trade-marks Act of Canada. It was copyrighted on July 6, 1965. In the 1960s, under the direction of BC Chief Censor R.W. (Ray) MacDonald, the restricted cougar was designed out of increased public demand for movie rating information. MacDonald seized upon the idea of using a symbol that audiences could easily associate with the "Restricted" category. MacDonald chose the cougar not only for its dramatic presence but also its significance as the largest wild cat native to British Columbia.

In short time, what was then the BC Film Classification Office launched a series of animated trailers starring the popular critter. These announcements were created 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 rating resulted in a significant drop in audience complaints. On another level, these trailers added a new excitement to the movie going experience. When the cougar made its way to the screen, audiences knew they were only moments away from the highly anticipated feature presentation.

On January 1, 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 the movies you see in BC and Saskatchewan theaters. 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.

Watch the Restricted Cougar trailers:
You can see all of the six of the cougar trailers on our YouTube Channel.  

If you wish to reproduce a "Restricted Cougar" trailer, please read our policy and complete the accompanying application form here.

An interactive timeline:
Want to see visual timeline of the Restricted Cougar and the films we've rated as Restricted since 1997? Please click this page on our website (or here on the Prezi website).

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