In recent months there has been a topic of discussion roaming the interwebs about movies, mostly comic adaptations, and the potential of them being rated 'R.' 'Deadpool' pushed the preconceived boundaries of comic movies by staying to the source material more so than any comic movie in recent history. Though many comic movies have been rater 'R' in the past 'Deadpool' pushed the topic to the forefront. However it seems that more people have begun to believe that rating a movie 'R' will somehow make it better. I don't agree with this line of thinking and in this article I hope to show people why an 'R' rating can actually do more harm than good in some cases.
Probably one of the biggest examples of "It better be rated R' out right now is the upcoming 'The Killing Joke' animated movie. Many fans have said that this animated movie needs to be rated 'R' in order to be a true adaptation of the comic however that is not entirely true. Now understand that the writers of the film have stated they intended from the start for this to be an 'R' rated film yet we as fans must understand why. It is not because of bloodshed of foul language its not even because of nudity but instead because of the theme of the story itself. True fans of the comic know that there is nothing visually demanding an 'R' rating in this film. There is no more blood in it than their is in a 'PG13' rated equivalent. No more foul language or flesh, yet people seem to demand it be rated 'R.' Now don't get me wrong, the theme of this story, if modernized and done correctly, can easily justify an 'R' rating but is this because the writers make it to be rated 'R' or did the story and subject matter make it require it?
There in lies the bigger question. Soon we will receive an 'R' rated version of BvS either at the theater or just on the ultimate Blu-Ray edition of the movie. Does that 'R' rating justify the lackluster story? The poor casting choices? The plot holes? Will the 'R' rating magically make the movie any better? I don't believe it will. It may have a few more WTF moments but that's about it. On the reverse side, would BvS have been any better with an 'R' rating originally? Again I don't believe so. Though it was an alright movie I don't believe the heavy rating would have detracted from its glaring mistakes. So why do so many think a rating will make a movie better or worse? Well, I honestly think it's because people don't fully understand what goes into rating a movie.
First and foremost a rating of 'R' can immediately alienate half or more of your viewing public. This is a consideration all production companies must look at when deciding what rating the movie they are creating should aim for. A movie with an 'R' rating cannot be viewed by anyone under 17 without an adult present. This not only leads to monetary losses in the theater but also in home sales due to the fact that pirating is so huge. Any 14 year old with the internet can illegally download a movie and are more apt to do so with those they cannot see under normal settings. Any production company has to take all these things into account at the conceptual stage of a film so as to have a clear direction to move in.
Yes, the conceptual stage. Before writing or casting, before locations or costumes are made a company must decide what rating they want to aim for. It starts then. A movie cant just be made rated 'R' if it was conceptualized as a 'PG13' movie or vice versa. It takes a lot of work to make those types of changes up to and including anything from lines of dialogue being altered to entire scenes having to be re-shot. this can ultimately cause an expensive movie to become even more so, sometimes so much so that it cuts into the films overall profit. With a movie like BvS where the budget is reported to be well over 450 million cost like this can make or break any future plans for sequels etc.
Now this is not to say an 'R' rating cannot be a good move for a film studio. It can. In the case of 'Deadpool' and 'Daredevil' an 'R' rating was not only a good choice but it has earned the individual production companies enough money to justify future movies/episodes of these properties. Why though? Why did 'R' ratings work for these shows and not be good for others. For that answer I direct you to the picture above. 'Daredevil' the movie starring Ben Affleck from 2003 is a stark contrast to Netflix's original 'Daredevil' series staring Charlie Cox. The difference was that Ben's Daredevil was originally supposed to be a 'PG13' movie and sadly the story was just not good. Why? Well because DD is much darker and brutal than the kiddie version that movie presented to us. Netflix has decided to stay a bit more true to the source material and thus rates the show 'R.' Again this is not necessarily because the writers are making it 'R' rated but because the material they are basing it on requires such a rating.
In the end ratings can either help or hinder a film/show and must be taken into heavy consideration when conceiving a story. A movie should never be made just to be 'R' rated. It must be the best possible story the studio can give. Once that is done if it requires an 'R' rating or lower then i am fine, just so long as the story is engaging and entertaining i could care less about the rating.