Rant time! Today we're going to talk about why the importance of a film's rating should be irrelevant. As many of you who are not currently dead or Amish know, Deadpool was recently released to glorious fan appraisal and rave reviews, and made stupid money while being an R-rated film. When we all first found out that Deadpool was actually happening, there was much speculation on what the movie would be rated. Deadpool fans insisted that it have an R rating or it couldn't possibly be a success as in every appearance in comics the character is consistently vulgar, crass, and inappropriate. A PG-13 rating would just be a disservice to the character. Then we got this little promo...
So we finally knew what we were going to be in for. But at the same time, this brought up some reserved skepticism due to the fact that R-rated comic book movies don't generally do well financially, with the most recent example being Dredd.
While critically praised and liked by about everybody who saw it, the main problem was that almost nobody saw it. The only reason I can think of why this movie did not gain any theatrical interest is because Dredd is a dated character and just not that popular now and mainstream audiences just didn't catch on. Generally studios tend to play it safe with action movies that have the ability to appeal to the masses and will almost always give those movies a PG-13 rating so as not to limit the amount of people old enough to purchase a ticket. So Deadpool who can at times be pretty polarizing due to his nature was a bit of a wildcard. The marketing for the film was some of the best of any film ever, which has a lot to do with its success, but the main reason that it was so successful was because it knew what kind of movie it was and stayed within itself.
But I fear that Hollywood might be getting the wrong idea with this success. Now it seems like everybody wants everything to be rated R and it will be a smash, because that's what the fans want. NO. Deadpool was a massive hit because it was good. NOT because it was rated R. The lesson that studios need to learn from Deadpool is that if your movie is good, no matter what the rating is, we will go see it. Tell us a good story and be true to our characters that's all we ask.
Many have also criticized DC/WB for recent news that there will be an R-rated extended cut of Batman v Superman for the Blu-ray release saying that they are only doing this because Deadpool worked. No, this was going to happen either way. Zack Snyder is no stranger to R-rated films as some of his best films have had that rating. This was actually confirmed by the MPAA long ago before we even knew Deadpool came out. The MPAA just had poor timing on this. Regardless I don't believe that the change of rating will make a difference in the quality of the movie.
It's imperative that studios and filmmakers focus on making a great film, have an idea of how mature you want to make the content, film the movie, and let the MPAA decide on the rating. The movie should not be filmed based on a targeted rating. Otherwise you end up putting yourself in a box creatively. Put trust in your cast and crew and let them do their jobs, and leave it to the moviegoers. If your film requires an R-rating to do itself justice, so be it. If it's good WE WILL GO SEE IT. Do not limit yourself based on statistics. While that is generally the safer and smarter business decision, sometimes you just have to sack up and take a chance on us moviegoers. Don't worry about the ratings, worry about the craft.