In the wake of the success of Logan opening higher than any other solo Wolverine movie as well as Deadpool, movie studios may have finally learned that restricting a film’s rating to make a good film doesn’t restrict box office receipts. As well, considering the aging population of baby boomers and people who actually buy tickets to the movies are getting older, focusing mostly on an older audience for more creative juice storytelling wise makes for a good payoff. This is something I’ve known and felt for years, that if you make a good movie, audiences will show up. Furthermore, here are The Six: Other Franchises that would benefit from an R-Rating.
The Da Vinci Code Series (Officially Robert Langdon)/ Production Company: Sony
Remember over a decade ago when The Tom Hanks led series was an international phenomenon? At the time posting record openings on a market in sore need of an adult led event picture, the movie was hyped for months on a heap of controversy and prestige hopes. “When you look at films that have an adult appeal, anything over $50 million has always been an amazing opening…” said then Sony distribution president Rory Bruer. “Adult-appealing thrillers, though, rarely are positioned as event pictures—” such is a quote lifted from Box Office Mojo regarding that film’s opening over a decade ago. Yet today when you look at the top R-rated openings minus Fox’s recent Marvel slate; ONLY FOUR of the top ten films are from this decade. It seems little has changed when it comes to addressing an underserved audience that’s becoming more and more lucrative. Moreover what should have been a clear flag with American Sniper, an R-Rated film becoming the highest grossing domestic release of 2014 was instead seen as a fluke, a testament to Clint Eastwood and the movie’s patriotic themes of war which given the track record of modern war on terror films at the box office, Lone Survivor another R-rated picture excepted, seems unlikely.
There’s a kind of exclusivity to R-rated films that I believe audiences now crave. It feels like they’re seeing something special or created just for them. Long before the success of Deadpool Hugh Jackman was quoted as saying he was gunning for a film he could give fans that his audience would deserve and I think making an R-rated film speaks to that. It’s both funny and tragic that I find this generation compared to the last audiences give less and less of a shit about taking kids to R-rated or content mature movies. If my experience of watching Suicide Squad next to a 7-year-old is any indication, perhaps people are realizing how sometimes dubious the MPAA rating system can be when certain films are rated versus others. Either that or more likely parents have just become less conservative.
I digress, The Da Vinci series with an adult led cast has shown diminishing returns and given some of the violent and sexual content and the original film’s [less so with the sequels] pushing of the PG-13 rating it would seem only necessary to tell a Robert Langdon mystery in a way that is equally scary in setup of its tense, horrifying stakes [the last movie Inferno was about a humanity ending virus]. Moreover, Tom Hanks has always been an adult led movie star, and given his recent labelling as America’s Dad, with one Big exception all of his movies especially his most recent one which out-grossed Inferno have had adult themes and been about adult situations which audiences still find appealing.
The DC-Extended Universe/ Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
If money is the only thing holding something like Batman v. Superman back from being the R-rated picture it should have been, the only wheelhouse in which its director Zack Snyder can and should operate, perhaps they should take a look at the lower than expected receipts of that film [it should’ve cleared a billion but didn’t because it wasn’t that good and therefore didn’t invite repeat viewings beyond the shamelessly devoted.] Similarly, the should’ve been R-rated in a way that not making it so is damaging in so many ways, Suicide Squad is a film laced with potential in a universe filled with dark characters. Paying them the respect they deserve on the big screen shouldn’t involve neutering violence to allow more people (especially 7-year-old kids who don’t even pay their own way) to see it without consequence the movie or the violence it condones as all bloodless PG-13 movies do.
If people turn out for an R-Rated Logan in the Marvel stable, they will obviously more lucratively turnout for an R-rated Batman film. One wishes Ben Affleck was still attached as a director to The Batman since ALL DCEU alum directors Zack Snyder, David Ayer, even Aquaman director James Wan and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins have made R-rated films their stock in trade. DCEU R-rated films just make sense content wise for the stories they tell given a titan style fight-to-the-death matchup and a literal suicide mission, and would allow the brand to cross into a revenue stream Disney will never touch [though in some small cases like the star wars spinoffs they should].
The Amazing Spider-Man series/ Production Company: Sony
The Spider-Man franchise is supposed to stand as a metaphor for adolescence. As Uncle Ben puts it to Peter in the original Spider-Man how his body and life is going through a lot of changes, and by the end of the first series Peter asks MJ to marry him, thereby completing his journey into adulthood. The very cheesy, somewhat effective last moments of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a kid stand in for Spider-Man. So why would Spider-Man benefit from an adult rating when the best moments in the series have been about capturing the excitement of what it means to be a youth? Put it simply to correct an error.
It’s a popularly held opinion that though the Amazing films are ironically lesser, they benefit from a more committed Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield is quoted as saying in an interview that when he was cast he believed in Hollywood films wanting to be good but struggled with maintaining that identity by having to parlay to greater needs. It is interestingly reminiscent of the dual struggle Peter Parker faces to which I think would make the backbone to a good adult Spider-Man considering his age already.
You have an Andrew Garfield led third Amazing Spider-Man film that pits a mature Peter Parker [However old Andrew Garfield is now] considering handing off the Spidey costume to someone else, perhaps Black Cat [a returning Felicity Jones]. Wracked with the guilt of the lives of the Stacey family and repeating the sins of his parents [the only arc defining the series] he goes up against 90’s ultimate baddie “Carnage”, as a ‘Shocker’ induced failed prison escape from the Sinister Six leaves the dangerous symbiote in the hands of the murderous Cletus Kasady. A grown up Peter Parker sacrifices his own blood to defeat the villainous Carnage in the process incidentally hands off the baton to a younger Miles Morales to take up the Spider-Man mantle of great responsibility.
Such a story would in a meta-fictional way with the breaking down and away of the Sinister Six speak to Spider-Man’s identity crisis at Sony. Considering their most recent outing made $700 million just because he’s Spider-Man, you have a seasoned and decent franchise director in Marc Webb or the talented would be spinoff writer Drew Goddard this would be a risk worth taking. Especially since they’ll cash the Disney-made Homecoming, animated film, and tie in exclusive cheques anyways, there’s little they can lose.
What other franchises do you think would benefit from an R-rating?