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Many incidents occur when kids see things on TV or in movies and try to replicate them in real life. This article gives many examples. As a result many ads now have the disclaimer "Do not try this at home" etc...

But in movies, I’ve seen no such disclaimer when a stunt like that occurs. Is it at the end of the credits where people never read? Or does someone in Hollywood look at a scene in the movie before its release and decide "oops, this could lead to litigation" and prompt a waiver of some sorts that indemnifies them against potential lawsuits? Is there insurance?

For an example of scene that has proven to be dangerous, in The Program (1993), there is a scene where two athletes lie down in a busy street to prove their toughness. Later, one teenager was killed and another critically injured while trying to replicate the scene - prompting Disney to pull the movie and cut the scene.

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    You really cannot litigate, nor insure, against true stupidity - theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/09/… The Beavis & Butthead 'incident' could (should) have been blamed on the lack of parental supervision, not the program makers. – Tetsujin Feb 9 at 18:49
  • I don't understand the waiver concept. Are you suggesting that before audience members watch the movie, someone requires them to sign a waiver? If not, then who is agreeing to what by means of the waiver? – Chaim Feb 9 at 21:35
  • I guess I don't know the right term (sorry I'm not a lawyer), but by waiver I meant an immunity granted to the producing company that absolves them of any wrongdoing should their audience get inspired by the actions in the movie and try to recreate them that ends up fatal. – thentangler Feb 10 at 1:49
  • I would think as things get more far-fetched that the liability becomes less likely. Your example of an animated movie with flying dragons and throwing children around is so far away from reality that it becomes ridiculous to suggest a disclaimer is needed. I think your question has merit - but you might just want to rein in your examples a little. Why do TV shows feel they need the disclaimer and most movies don't? – iandotkelly Feb 10 at 15:56
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    @PausePause - that tales us back to my first comment - "You really cannot litigate, nor insure, against true stupidity" – Tetsujin Feb 10 at 18:27
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Disclaimers

Some TV shows and even movies show prominent disclaimers, but I’ve only seen these for nonfiction (or reality TV) like MythBusters, and maybe strongly objectionable fiction (TV-MA). For an example of a movie with a warning like this there’s Jackass:

WARNING: The stunts in this movie were performed by professionals. So neither you nor your dumb buddies should attempt anything from this movie.

Media intended for children doesn’t tend to include disclaimers like this as a disclaimer sets a certain tone and it could scare off parents. (Craft shows may have a verbal disclaimer to “get adult supervision”, but this is different because the point is to try the activity at home.)

For a rather different example, the rereleases of 70s-80s Sesame Street included a disclaimer that the content is “intended for grownups”. Though originally intended for children, the episodes depicted things like children riding bikes without helmets, a girl going to the house of a man she just met to get ice cream, and Cookie Monster smoking then eating a lit pipe. The purpose of the disclaimer is clear: the studio didn’t feel it was appropriate anymore for a young audience and wanted to make sure that no parents were caught off guard by this.

Other Warnings: Ratings

Most movies and TV don’t have a disclaimer per se but potentially objectionable content should never be a surprise due to everything having a rating (eg G, TV-14, R). The rating appears in much of the promotional content in addition to being shown directly before the content airs. In addition, there is often a short description of why, such as “cartoon violence”. The parent (or adult viewer) is expected to pay attention to this and act accordingly.

Legal Consult

A company that sells insurance (including some for films) explains what’s happening behind the scenes of moviemaking. You’re right that someone reviews the movie, looking for any potential legal problems:

An expert review of the final film, by a media attorney and/or experienced media liability insurance professional, can help to prevent potential problems from ever arising.

They give the example of a documentary where an attorney recommended that the filmmakers obtain permission to use footage relating to a murder from the families of the victims to prevent an emotional distress lawsuit.

Insurance

Additionally, all movies have insurance of some type. To again quote from the insurance company:

It's impossible to distribute a film without insurance, since distributors require it, so insurance is critical from that standpoint.
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The important considerations in purchasing insurance, therefore, are covering the most important exposures, the dollar amount of coverage, the insurance company and broker and value (the coverage received for the amount of premium paid).

It looks to me like not all insurance plans would cover “tried it at home” lawsuits, but a company that thought that was a possibility would go for better coverage. Lawsuits are extremely expensive.

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  • I would think children are far more impressionable than adults, so the fact that Media intended for children doesn’t tend to include disclaimers like this as a disclaimer sets a certain tone and it could scare off parents is both curious and concerning – thentangler Feb 11 at 17:00

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