Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Scott Mendelson notes the flaws with the decision on dropping the rating for The Expendables 3 to PG-13:
“Is a PG-13 Expendables film, which may end up being a strong action picture that merely lacks blood and F-words, at a disadvantage by virtue of its “lesser” rating? Will this attempt to snare potentially uninterested younger audiences in turn scare away the very audience who otherwise would be most excited to see the film?”
Read the full article, on Forbes, here.
The argument is whether the lower rating will put off the adult market that The Expendables 3 depends upon. The attempt at attracting a younger audience simply isn’t worth the potential loss of the adult audience. Mendelson writes how “box office failures of The Last Stand, Parker, Bullet to the Head, Escape Plan, and Sabotage” may be responsible for the change in rating. But remember, none of those were sequels – let alone sequels to successful action-romps that clearly didn’t require positive reviews to secure an audience.
I would expect the usual adult demographic to go despite what Mendelson predicts. Did I go to The Expendables for gore and F-bombs? Nope – action, gun-play and old heroes is the attraction. This will still be delivered in spades and, as usual, the cast-count is up again with Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson joining the team. I’ll watch the film to see these actors take down the villains (or the heroes, depending on their role).
Crucially, by rating it PG-13, ticket buyers who are parents of teenagers, can comfortably take their family to the cinema. Rating it R may mean a more “family-friendly” film (Guardians of the Galaxy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will win the multiple-ticket purchase, whereby a PG-13 rating tells parents that now Expendables 3 is “family-friendly” (albeit a teenage-child family opposed to toddlers). Consider Die Hard and The Terminator were released in the 1980’s as violent and adult-natured films – now, Live Free or Die Hard, rated PG-13, is the most successful of the series and Terminator: Salvation was also released as PG-13. These franchises – and actors – are now fun for all the family, not just 17-and-over.
Whereas patrons over the age of 17 would bound down to the cinema to watch the previous R-rated instalments and housebound fathers sneeked a peek on a streaming service, it’s different with a PG-13. So yes, though kids may not want to see the film as much as others, the parents want to see it – and they’re the ones buying the tickets. This way, there is an excuse for everyone to watch the same film rather than limiting the audience and forcing them into a different cinema screen altogether.
Simon Columb (Follow him on Twitter @screeninsight)