You've probably noticed fewer sex scenes in movies, and data backs up that observation

A study of films from 2000 until last year shows sexual content fell by nearly 40%.
Two actors are seen dimly lit as they embrace and kiss on a film set.
Posted at 3:04 PM, May 03, 2024

In an assessment of the amount of sexual content in major films since the end of the 20th century, one study of data shows that scenes with sex in films have dropped by almost 40%. So, if you've noticed fewer of those risque moments in movies that might make you feel uncomfortable watching around family, then by at least one assessment, the data backs up your observations.

With most of the censorship worries of the past locked in the vaults of film archives, the Economist's Rachel Lloyd says Hollywood has "entered a puritanical age" with the #MeToo movement as a motivating factor. Whatever the exact reason, film data researcher Stephen Follows published charts showing the significant decline over the last 20 or more years.

Follows' website has data published after looking at the top 250 grossing films of each year since 2000. In the analysis, there was an attempt to try to speculate on the reasons why as well. It was noted that other types of objectionable material in films along with sex, like drug content, violence, profanity, had not seen the same decline.

Follows found that we're not even seeing a reduction in the intensity of the sexual content, but instead fewer sexual scenes overall. A look at the top grossing films without sexual content appears to be on a steady incline when plotted out on a chart from 2000 until 2023. Thrillers and action movies appeared to see the most decline in the trend among the same years. Among top-grossing romantic films from 2000 until 2023, sexual content appeared to decline slightly during some years, but overall showed the least amount of change compared to the other criteria.

Follows says there are a number of reasons this decline could be happening including shifts in cultural norms, outdated stereotypes, the availability of adult content from other sources, and changes in audience taste. The film industry has seen a rise in intimacy coordinatorson set to be sure improper behavior and harassment doesn't happen.

"Their presence could be discouraging gratuitous sex scenes unless they serve a critical narrative purpose," Follows writes.

But, as the Economist points out, there are plenty of examples of sexually explicit feature films in recent years, but you just might have to cherry pick them a bit more, some would say, including "Fair Play" and "Poor Things," which included sex scenes in a variety of unconventional places.