The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

BANKING ON "R"
restrict this
I remember, as a little kid, how deliciously appealing R-rated movies were. They were officially off-limits for the jazillion years it would take me to reach age 17, and so I connived for ways to see them every chance I got.

More recently, the R-rating has been seen as something of an albatross around the movies industry's neck. Slapping a movie with that rating automatically limits (or Restricts) the potential audience for that movie, as kids are such a huge moviegoing audience. At the same time, it's not so much of a taboo label as to completely sink a movie (NC-17 and the long-ago abandoned X are the ratings that studios can't work with at all, practically).

For whatever reasons, studios are putting their money where the R is this summer, as they're anticipating plenty of R-rated blockbusters.

Are they playing with fire? It's hard to believe that the Matrix sequels could fizzle over a rating label, but consider: One of the reasons cited for The Real Cancun bombing was that the R-rating it earned shut out all the 12-16 year-olds who would've been the core audience; and Cancun was anticipated to be a huuuuge hit. Of course, the other reason for the flop was perceived to be the easy availability of similar reality fare, and I guess you can't say that about the Matrix crap.

I love this bit:

Dan Fellman, president theatrical distribution for Warner Bros., predicts "The Matrix Reloaded" will set box office records for an R-rated film, but he would have liked to have seen it be given a PG-13 rating. He's not given up hope yet that "The Matrix Revolutions" will be rated PG-13, although he vows there won't be cuts made in the third movie to win that rating.


My ass, he vows that. If "Reloaded" comes up even a little bit short of the sky-high projections they've got, they'll hack "Revolutions" to bits if they have to to get it down to PG-13. At that point, it's all about simply maximizing the number of bodies willing to buy a ticket.