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C'MON HOLLYWOOD: More movies for grown-ups!

11.16.2010

Take a look at JoBlo.com’s box-office recaps from the last few weeks. Notice any trends? Movies that skew younger, like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, JACKASS 3D, and SAW 3D all had huge openings, but in their second weekends all had stiff declines. While they’ll all be considered financially successful (well, at least JACKASS and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY will), they lacked “legs”- meaning they sank like a stone once their core audience flocked to see them opening weekend.

At the same time, films that has solid, if less spectacular openings, but skewed older- all held up remarkably well. THE SOCIAL NETWORK and THE TOWN are both closing on $90 million, while RED, in its fourth weekend, is still in the top 5, and has made over $70 million, and could potentially cross the magic $100 Million mark.


To varying degrees, these were all films that were targeted at adults, and thank God, audiences actually showed up to see them in theaters. I think it’s an important lesson for Hollywood, as it proves that films made for adults can still make money, provided, of course, that they are good.Hopefully this will lead to a trend seeing the release of more films geared to adults. But, I think Hollywood needs to go further. Of those three films, only THE TOWN carried an R-Rating. THE SOCIAL NETWORK was fine at a PG-13, but RED felt shoe-horned into a more accessible PG-13, and could have been even better if R.

Even worse is the case of WALL STREET 2: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS. The original WALL STREET was a hard R, but in the sequel, you get curiously mild-mouthed brokers, and a romantic subplot centered on a couple of kids played by Shia LaBeouf, and Carey Mulligan. Meanwhile, Michael Douglas, the ONLY reason anyone even bothered seeing the film, is regulated to the background, and the adult audience that would have gone to see it is alienated.

Being R-rated, of course the audiences will be restricted somewhat, but if the budgets are capped at a reasonable number, there’s no reason these films can’t be profitable. THE TOWN cost $35 million, and has already broken $150 million worldwide. Once it hits DVD/blu-ray, it’ll become even more profitable. So why the hell is everything mainstream made PG-13?

What's ironic is that all of the films that I listed as having had huge opening weekends, but skewed younger, were rated R! So the myth that R-rated movies can't rake in big box-office is just that- a myth.


Back in the eighties and nineties, it wasn’t unusual for major blockbusters to be R. Think of TRUE LIES, or TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY. Both of these films set records for film budgets, and both were mega-hits. One might argue that it was the PG-13 takeover that contributed to the decline of all the great action heroes of yesteryear, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone. BUT, the funny thing is, Sly just had a $100 million + blockbuster that was…you guessed it…R! It even beat PG-13 action flicks with much higher budgets, like THE A-TEAM, and KNIGHT & DAY. So why the constant need for PG-13?

In some ways, it feels like we’re going back to the way films were in the days of the production code, when no ratings existed, and everything had to be more or less suitable for family viewing (although clever directors like Billy Wilder, and Alfred Hitchcock learned to use these sanctions to their advantage). Nowadays, pretty much every major film is PG-13, but as an adult, I feel that those films lack the edge I want. For something like INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT, SCOTT PILGRIM, etc., it doesn’t really matter if it’s PG-13, as it won’t necessarily be made better with swearing and graphic violence. Ditto IRON MAN, something like TRON: LEGACY, SHERLOCK HOLMES, etc. There's nothing wrong with mass-audience popcorn films that are fun for every member of the family. But then, look at something like LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, and see how’s it’s been virtually castrated into a PG-13. Same thing goes for a relatively tough film like TAKEN- that was trimmed at the last second to get the rating toned down.


What we need are alternatives for adults, lest they all dedicate themselves solely to watching TV, where- on channels like AMC, FX, HBO, and SHOWTIME, courageous, adult programming IS being made. Patton Oswalt was right when he said TV now is like films were in the seventies. You think we’ll ever get a film like THE EXORCIST, or CHINATOWN made nowadays? Back in the day, those were BIG blockbusters. Now, they’d be indies at best. In the case of CHINATOWN, I doubt it could ever get made at a decent budget, while THE EXORCIST would be cut to pieces, and surely made PG-13 (at least until the inevitable, UNRATED DVD). But on TV, we can get long form, adult dramas in a variety of genres like BREAKING BAD, THE WALKING DEAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and MAD MEN. Heck, with the high production values, I doubt you’d ever be able to tell they were made for TV if you didn’t know better.

So please Hollywood, take the success of R-Rated films like THE TOWN, and adult skewing films like THE SOCIAL NETWORK, and RED, and make more of them- so that as adults, we can reclaim our place in movie theaters around the globe. And if you’re going to make a hard-edged action, please do the right thing and give us an R-rating so that the film will have some balls!

Extra Tidbit: Any PG-13 movies that would have been better R?
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:05PM on 11/16/2010
I agree wholeheartedly with everything said in the article. I have noticed that we may actually be winning. I know there are a lot of quality r-rated movies coming out next year and overall, the pg-13 rated is really being pushed to the limit by folks like Nolan. So, the next couple of years may show a positive trend for fans of more mature and intelligent material.
I agree wholeheartedly with everything said in the article. I have noticed that we may actually be winning. I know there are a lot of quality r-rated movies coming out next year and overall, the pg-13 rated is really being pushed to the limit by folks like Nolan. So, the next couple of years may show a positive trend for fans of more mature and intelligent material.
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7:35PM on 11/16/2010

Well said, Bumbray, and props for the Oswalt quote.

Extra tidbit: Alien Vs. Predator for sure. I'm 99% sure it's the only film with a Predator or an Alien that isn't R. Well, the only one so far anyway. Fuckin' Hollywood.
Extra tidbit: Alien Vs. Predator for sure. I'm 99% sure it's the only film with a Predator or an Alien that isn't R. Well, the only one so far anyway. Fuckin' Hollywood.
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4:38PM on 11/16/2010

Heck, with the high production values, I doubt you’d ever be able to tell they were made for TV if you didn’t know better.

I was actually watching Boardwalk Empire on Sunday and my Dad asked why I kept watching the same movie over and over again. He mightve have been mistaken because of him seeing Steve Buscemi and thinking it was a movie, but its just a fine example of movie actors flocking to tv to make descent shows
I was actually watching Boardwalk Empire on Sunday and my Dad asked why I kept watching the same movie over and over again. He mightve have been mistaken because of him seeing Steve Buscemi and thinking it was a movie, but its just a fine example of movie actors flocking to tv to make descent shows
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+4
3:27PM on 11/16/2010
Yes! Agree.

Terminator 3 must be perfect example of a obvious R movie castrated to a PG13.

Hopefully a T5 movie will look and feel similar to the 1st one. Same goes for Wolverine, and sadly also Thor - that superhero and the coming Deadpool movie, should be R.

Yes! Agree.

Terminator 3 must be perfect example of a obvious R movie castrated to a PG13.

Hopefully a T5 movie will look and feel similar to the 1st one. Same goes for Wolverine, and sadly also Thor - that superhero and the coming Deadpool movie, should be R.

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5:44PM on 11/16/2010
Do you mean Terminator Salvation? Terminator 3 was R.
Do you mean Terminator Salvation? Terminator 3 was R.
3:17PM on 11/16/2010
Interesting article with some bad examples. Sure, this summer might have proven that an R-rated flick could gross more than a PG-13 one, in term of action movies at least. Thats only a matter of money, not quality. The Expandables was still a crappy film. It made money because of the hype. It might have made more it had been PG-13. So as I said, I think its a bad example.
Interesting article with some bad examples. Sure, this summer might have proven that an R-rated flick could gross more than a PG-13 one, in term of action movies at least. Thats only a matter of money, not quality. The Expandables was still a crappy film. It made money because of the hype. It might have made more it had been PG-13. So as I said, I think its a bad example.
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5:09PM on 11/16/2010
The Expendables was successful, not because of the hype, but because of what it was--a throwback to tough guy/action films of old. Fans from various decades went to see it because movies aren't made like this anymore. It had a solid story, believable acting, mostly real stunts, a lot of hardcore intensity and action, and it has some substance unlike most. There was an actual point and some meaning behind it. Was it profound? No, but it was still more than the 2-dimensional hype-fest you make it
The Expendables was successful, not because of the hype, but because of what it was--a throwback to tough guy/action films of old. Fans from various decades went to see it because movies aren't made like this anymore. It had a solid story, believable acting, mostly real stunts, a lot of hardcore intensity and action, and it has some substance unlike most. There was an actual point and some meaning behind it. Was it profound? No, but it was still more than the 2-dimensional hype-fest you make it out to be.
5:47PM on 11/16/2010
Please dude, spare me your over-appreciation of anything Stallone. You are a fan, we get it. You take yourself seriously, you think we are all dumb cause we dont see what only you can see in his movies. Fine. But its annoying and its getting awkward having you making a fool of yourself every time a Stallone news come up.
Please dude, spare me your over-appreciation of anything Stallone. You are a fan, we get it. You take yourself seriously, you think we are all dumb cause we dont see what only you can see in his movies. Fine. But its annoying and its getting awkward having you making a fool of yourself every time a Stallone news come up.
12:20PM on 11/16/2010

Excellent article! Bravo!

This makes me hope The Wolverine will be rated R.
This makes me hope The Wolverine will be rated R.
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+2
12:13PM on 11/16/2010
Perfect column. I agree with all your viewpoints and sometimes I feel that a film isn't even the work of the director anymore because its always getting trimmed down. Where is the artistic truth and value? Horror movies over the past decade are more and more pg-13 and so are action movies and barely any of them break the 100 mil mark and cant remember when they went past 200. Movie studios are afraid to lose money and I feel they need to take more risks once in a while
Perfect column. I agree with all your viewpoints and sometimes I feel that a film isn't even the work of the director anymore because its always getting trimmed down. Where is the artistic truth and value? Horror movies over the past decade are more and more pg-13 and so are action movies and barely any of them break the 100 mil mark and cant remember when they went past 200. Movie studios are afraid to lose money and I feel they need to take more risks once in a while
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+9
11:45AM on 11/16/2010

Thank You!

Finally someone sees what's going on here. Everything (not just films) is family friendly nowadays. It's like we're raising a generation of pussies. What happened to freedom of expression? Why can't filmmakers have creative control anymore? Something needs to happen. But, if nothing does, there's always great shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead on TV to watch. For now...
Finally someone sees what's going on here. Everything (not just films) is family friendly nowadays. It's like we're raising a generation of pussies. What happened to freedom of expression? Why can't filmmakers have creative control anymore? Something needs to happen. But, if nothing does, there's always great shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead on TV to watch. For now...
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11:15AM on 11/16/2010
It's a good point which I agree with, but we've just been through it too many times for me to find this debate interesting any more.
It's a good point which I agree with, but we've just been through it too many times for me to find this debate interesting any more.
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11:06AM on 11/16/2010

I loved Live Free or Die Hard.

Did I miss Yipee ki yay motherfucker? Yes I did. But it was still damn cool.
Did I miss Yipee ki yay motherfucker? Yes I did. But it was still damn cool.
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5:11PM on 11/16/2010
Agreed. I don't get the hate for it just because of its PG-13 rating. Granted, it was definitely unnecessary to tone down the rating--seeing as how the three prior films were rated R and were very successful, but still the movie was great.
Agreed. I don't get the hate for it just because of its PG-13 rating. Granted, it was definitely unnecessary to tone down the rating--seeing as how the three prior films were rated R and were very successful, but still the movie was great.
11:02AM on 11/16/2010
I concur with ya. There's nothing much at the movies for someone my age anymore, almost all of it skews towards the younger set. If you want GREAT drama and shows for adults, as you pointed out, turn on Cable...some of the best entertainment I've seen in years!
I concur with ya. There's nothing much at the movies for someone my age anymore, almost all of it skews towards the younger set. If you want GREAT drama and shows for adults, as you pointed out, turn on Cable...some of the best entertainment I've seen in years!
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+10
10:45AM on 11/16/2010

WHILE I'M ALL FOR MORE R RATED MOVIES...

The standards have changed, if movies like T2 were released today it would probably get a PG13 rating. I think movies like The Dark Knight have proven that you don't always need to be R rated to be intense and edgy, you just need a skilled filmmaker who knows how to walk that razors edge. So many R rated and unrated movies suck now'a'days because they just go for the gore and don't craft a gripping and suspenseful movie to make the gore actually mean something and have impact.
The standards have changed, if movies like T2 were released today it would probably get a PG13 rating. I think movies like The Dark Knight have proven that you don't always need to be R rated to be intense and edgy, you just need a skilled filmmaker who knows how to walk that razors edge. So many R rated and unrated movies suck now'a'days because they just go for the gore and don't craft a gripping and suspenseful movie to make the gore actually mean something and have impact.
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11:49AM on 11/16/2010
Nicely put duderino however I have a question for thee, how the HELL can an Owl type? Riddle me that!
Nicely put duderino however I have a question for thee, how the HELL can an Owl type? Riddle me that!
12:01PM on 11/16/2010
Were little peckers ;{P
Were little peckers ;{P
10:42AM on 11/16/2010

Fingers crossed this comes to fruition

While I hesitate to call "The Expendables" made for adults, I am absolutely behind this line of thinking. "The Social Network" was such a well-made movie it wasn't until it was over I even realized it wasn't Restricted. I have to wonder though, if a movie like that would've gotten the big studio treatment if it wasn't about Facebook. Nah.

Looking back to the '70s though, at a movie like "All the President's Men." Today that movie would get slapped with the R for language. Back then, in the
While I hesitate to call "The Expendables" made for adults, I am absolutely behind this line of thinking. "The Social Network" was such a well-made movie it wasn't until it was over I even realized it wasn't Restricted. I have to wonder though, if a movie like that would've gotten the big studio treatment if it wasn't about Facebook. Nah.

Looking back to the '70s though, at a movie like "All the President's Men." Today that movie would get slapped with the R for language. Back then, in the pre-PG-13 days it was just PG. I guess what I'm saying is, while sure, "Social Network" coulda been a lot more adult, the energy and tension was there. Maybe we could've seen some nudity, but we didn't need more fucks to make that a good movie.

I think some studios are likely taking a page from Ben Affleck's success already, but only time will tell if they're able to profit in the long run from subsequent R-rated fare.
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10:32AM on 11/16/2010
Good article. I wish more movies would be Rated R. The Expendables, The Hangover, and The Town all proved that Rated R movies can be successful.

Most of the shows on television are better than most of the movies that are coming out these days.
Good article. I wish more movies would be Rated R. The Expendables, The Hangover, and The Town all proved that Rated R movies can be successful.

Most of the shows on television are better than most of the movies that are coming out these days.
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10:29AM on 11/16/2010
Even more disturbing than trying to shoehorn every film into a PG-13 is the fact that films with adult themes are given short shrift. Films like Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz and the film Blue Valentine (the rating on that is another rant entirely) which are intelligent looks at adult relationships seem to just have zero chance at success in today's marketplace.
Even more disturbing than trying to shoehorn every film into a PG-13 is the fact that films with adult themes are given short shrift. Films like Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz and the film Blue Valentine (the rating on that is another rant entirely) which are intelligent looks at adult relationships seem to just have zero chance at success in today's marketplace.
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10:18AM on 11/16/2010

Well said

Fucking A Bumbray!!!!
Fucking A Bumbray!!!!
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10:11AM on 11/16/2010
Fuck yes. Hollywood is filled with weak assed executives who cut movies for the mass appeal. More for the 17+ crowd.
Fuck yes. Hollywood is filled with weak assed executives who cut movies for the mass appeal. More for the 17+ crowd.
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9:50AM on 11/16/2010
What a bloody great article. I have on MFC status just now that I'm sick of all these animated movies, there seems to be a new one every week. I love the PIXAR movies but everything else licks balls. I want much more R-Rated fare, I hugely enjoyed The Expendables, sure it had plenty of faults but I enjoyed it it cos it was an old fashioned actioner which is my favourite genre. I'm hoping with the financial success of Expendables that we get more R-Rated actioners.
What a bloody great article. I have on MFC status just now that I'm sick of all these animated movies, there seems to be a new one every week. I love the PIXAR movies but everything else licks balls. I want much more R-Rated fare, I hugely enjoyed The Expendables, sure it had plenty of faults but I enjoyed it it cos it was an old fashioned actioner which is my favourite genre. I'm hoping with the financial success of Expendables that we get more R-Rated actioners.
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