Last summer, Hollywood decided to try and maximize their profits by making The Expendables 3 a PG-13 movie. However, the strategy failed. While it didn't tank at the box office overall (it made a worldwide total of $200 million against a $90 million budget), it still severely underperformed with a gross of $39 million domestically. By comparison, the first and second Expendables films made $103 million and $85 in their respective domestic runs. The third installment underperformed so badly, that Sylvester Stallone has changed his stance on the PG-13 rating, agreeing it was a costly mistake.
While initially defending the decision to make The Expendables 3 PG-13, Stallone recently said in an interview with Crave Online that he realizes that it was the wrong route to go. When asked if future installments will be rated R, Stallone said:
"Absolutely, unequivocally yes. I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again.
It's clear to see why Stallone changed his stance, but the mistake should have been obvious from the beginning. The Expendables franchise was built around 80's action movie nostalgia. It was intended for older audiences that grew up with veteran actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, etc. By toning down the violence, Lionsgate alienated the majority of the fanbase expecting balls-to-the-wall action and thrills.
While initially blaming piracy for the film's underperformance, many publications like Forbes agreed that the PG-13 rating was what really killed the project. Now it seems like Sylvester Stallone wants to bring back the R rating and give fans the cheesy over-the-top violence that they wanted all along.
Fans who were disappointed with The Expendables 3's lack of violence can still get excited for a possible fourth one by checking out the recent unrated Blu-ray/DVD release. After a mistake like this though, will you still be willing to see it?