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‘IT’: The Interesting Reason Why the Blood is Black in the Trailer

Stephen King's IT Pennywise courtesy of New Line Cinema

The outstanding teaser trailer for Andrés Muschietti’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s It was released yesterday, and it would be an understatement to say that people were impressed. One complaint that I kept seeing across the internet was one of disappointment in the fact that the blood flying out of Beverly Marsh’s sink was no longer blood, but rather some strange black liquid. Others believed that the liquid was blood but the filmmakers actively chose to make it black. If you were one of those people,* let me assuage your concerns. The liquid coming out of Ms. Marsh’s sink is most definitely blood, and it will be red when you see the film. It just can’t be red in the trailer.

When I got to see the trailer at the SXSW Conference and Festivals earlier this month, I mentioned that Muschietti warned us that the effects for the trailer hadn’t been completed yet, but I couldn’t tell what he was referring to. Everything in the trailer looked complete to me. It turns out he was referring to the blood exploding out of Beverly’s sink. In the version of the trailer I saw, the blood was still red. The studio had to CGI over the blood in order to make it black because the Motion Picture Association of America has very strict guidelines on what you can and can’t show in a Green Band Trailer (trailers with that green screen that shows before them that says “The following preview has been approved for ALL AUDIENCES by the Motion Picture Association of America”).

According to the MPAA’s Advertising Administration Rules, “Approved (Without Restriction)” forms of film advertisement may not include:

Realistic or excessive violence, brutality or scary images, including, but not limited to: depictions of blood or wounds; scenes of torture; dismemberments; mutations or mutilations of bodies (including cadavers); people in jeopardy, including images of people being abused, punched, beaten, bound or gagged; disturbing or frightening scenes, including some transformations and morphing particularly when a character becomes abnormal or grotesque; children in peril, including verbal or physical abuse of children; overt references to or scenes depicting death of a parent or a child; realistic depictions of natural disasters; intense depictions or threats from supernatural creatures or the occult; cruelty to animals; and people or animals on fire (except where, in the opinion of the Advertising Administration, the portrayal is clearly unrealistic to audiences, such as a comic book character).

What that description conveniently leaves out is one important descriptor: approved forms of advertisement (or “Green Band Trailers,” as you might know them as) may not include depictions of red blood. If it’s not red, then a small child won’t think it’s blood. This is why so many of the horror film trailers you see have black blood instead of red blood, and that also applies to the trailer for It. This isn’t the first time you have seen this in a movie trailer before. Just look at the blood trail left by the pitchfork in the trailer for 2010’s The Crazies or the blood-stained hospital mask of the infected girl in the trailer for the PG-13 film Carriers. You just can’t show blood in green-band trailers (red band trailers are another story).

Related: Here’s the Terrifying ‘IT’ Trailer in 50 Hi-Res Images!

Interestingly enough, the red blood rule also applies in some way to a film as a whole. For example, if a film contains a certain amount of red blood, it could face an NC-17 rating as opposed to an R rating (Wes Craven’s Scream ran into this issue back in 1996). Because of this, filmmakers have been finding creative ways to work around that rule. Think the Crazy 88 scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, or the entirety of Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City. Tarantino filmed The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) famous fight scene in black and white. Rodriguez filmed all of Sin City in black and white as well, and most of the colored blood was yellow (from the Yellow Bastard). Ignoring the fact that Sin City was going to be filmed in black and white no matter what in order to match the artistic style of Frank Miller’s graphic novel upon which the film is based, it’s a pretty clever loophole. If the blood isn’t red, then it’s not really blood! It’s a little silly when you think about it, but those are the rules.

So I hope this clears some things up for those of you who were worried about the mysterious black liquid. I can’t wait to check out It when it hits theaters on September 8th!

In the film, seven children known as The Losers’ Club come face to face with life problems, bullies, and a monster that takes the shape of a clown called Pennywise.“

Bill Skarsgard stars as Pennywise, the sewer-dwelling monster.

The members of the modern Losers’ Club will be portrayed by Jaeden Lieberher (as Bill Denbrough), Finn Wolfhard (as Richie Tozier), Jack Dylan Grazer (as Eddie Kaspbrak), Wyatt Oleff (as Stan Uris), Chosen Jacobs (as Mike Hanlon), Sophia Lillis (as Beverly Marsh) and Jeremy Ray Taylor (as Ben Hanscom).

The Leper will be portrayed by Creature performer Javier Botet, and the trio of bullies who torment the Losers’ Club will be portrayed by Nicholas Hamilton (as Henry Bowers), Owen Teague (as Patrick Hocksetter), Logan Thomspn (as Victor Criss) and Jake Sim (as Belch Huggins).

Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, and Barbara Muschietti produce.

*I understand that many readers probably understand the difference between a green- and red-band trailer but this post is for the readers that don’t understand that. Please be kind to them in the comments.


60 Comments
  • Ocelot006 .

    I think we all remember the silver blood from the Urban Legend 2 trailer.

    • REC03

      Or the zombie covered in blue blood in the trailer for the first Resident Evil.

  • J Jett

    i’m surprised people were freaking out thinking it wouldn’t be blood red in the actual movie since unless it’s a Red Band trailer you can’t show blood/blood red coloring in trailers.

    • Agreed, but most people don’t seem to know that. =)

    • In Portugal the theaters show the red brand trailers before PG-13 films.

      • Charlie

        Portugal sounds awesome.

        • It’s amazing in some things!
          Deadpool was PG-13 here hahaha

          • Vicente Garcia

            So what the fuck is rated R if Deadpool is PG-13?!

          • Deadpool is Rated R in USA, in Portugal is M/14 (something like PG-13).

        • Alex

          Yup, we sent Columbus home when he wanted us to help him discover america. We’d had seen it all by then, we’ve seen it all by now. Bring those R-Rated movies on, we can take it!

  • Doctor Flickenstein

    Anyone remember how in the Pineapple Express trailer they did this with the scene where Franco’s foot is through the windshield of the cop car and its covered in slushee? Because it was red and looked similar to blood they blacked it out as well lol.

    • Ocelot006 .

      I was actually going to bring that up. That was definitely the strangest case.

  • Jordan Haney

    Cant wait for the Red Band trailer.

  • Christopher Perkins

    The crazy 88 sequence wasn’t filmed in black and white, it was post-processed. You can find the color version floating around on youtube if you look for it.

    • Hey! That is what I meant. It was post-processed to black and white to avoid the NC-17 rating.

      • sweetooth0

        Also the black and white sequence was a callback to some old show where Japanese audiences wouldn’t get the reference because they didn’t watch it over there I guess.

    • J Jett

      that sequence from KILL BILL also has additional footage (lots of great gore/blood!) in that Japanese only all color release!

      • diapers

        This I did not know. Will seek it out post haste!

    • jackstark211

      I was going to post this.

  • I thought this remake was PG-13 and that’s the reason why the blood is black.

    • Nope. Definitely going to be Rated R. The director confirmed as much when they premiered the trailer at SXSW earlier this month.

      • Oh My God! I’m happy to see a Rated R horror movie!!

        • chuck

          R rating doesn’t always equal good, just remember that.

          • Yeah, Insidious is PG-13 and in my opinion is a great movie.

          • Spencer Rutt

            yeah cause it was scary, not because it was gory. Some people dont even see a difference. Like their saying, all horror movies have the same value of scary “scenes”? that makes no sense

          • Another example is Blair Witch, that film is Rated R and was a sh*t, I hated it.

          • Chance LeBoeuf

            Sure, but an IT adaptation would work best with the R rating.

          • Nasatal

            But it does mean it can be more faithful to the book than the miniseries was.

  • chuck

    The most concerning thing is why the fuck is the MPAA still a thing? You would think in this day and age especially how media is consumed the MPAA would have gone belly up.

    MPAA has done more harm then good ever since it was created.

  • Sounds a bit ballsy that part 1 being focused on kids yet is going to be rated R, well stranger things kind of broke that mold a bit so im just hoping for the best for this film!!

    • Jamie McKinney

      Its that way for the reason. If they stick close to the book the boys have to take turns fucking beverly at some point. Since they can’t for obvious reasons show that im interested in seeing how they go about that since its such a huge part of it.

  • ForskinCutter

    I’m going to be offended if they have a lot of blood and gore… I hope they do a lot of cut away scenes so that way we don’t see much ….

    • Saturn

      I know, right?
      Hopefully they will leave out the scary stuff and violence as I’d be very offended for other people if they left it in. Hopefully it will be a PG-13 rating so I can watch it without the lights on – I don’t like movies to be scary, they should ALL be watered down.

      ******Nurse – where are my pills!******

      • ForskinCutter

        Hahahahahahahaha amen!

      • Spencer Rutt

        then dont watch horror movies, watering down a horror movie is nothing but trash.

        • Saturn

          Exactly my point.

  • DBZEROGRAVITY

    wasn’t that common knowledge?

    • Sykes

      I had thought so but maybe not. They’ve been turning blood brown or black in trailers for…jeez, at least a decade I reckon. Just like they sometimes paint over partial nudity for green band trailers.

  • Rohan

    NC-17 for too much blood? How did the Shining get away with an elevator full of it?

    • Heather Cross

      “Those were simpler times”

      • Rohan

        Yeah, back when jaws was PG.

    • It wasn’t coming out of a body. If it’s coming from a body they’re stricter.

      • Rohan

        Wonder why they had to change the color in Evil Dead 2. Most of the blood came from a wall.

  • diapers

    Case in point to eliminate ratings for flicks and trailers. My six year old can turn on network television at 8pm and watch full blown gutted corpse autopsies on reruns of Crossing Jordan, for instance, but we have to see black blood on green band trailers?

  • Kaijudude

    This has been happening for a while now in a lot of movies

    • Saturn

      Indeed, the obvious example is Evil Dead 2 which Raimi decided to use non red blood in certain scenes, hoping for a lower rating – although it made no difference whatsoever with the final rating!

  • Kaijudude

    * trailers

  • JR H

    Blood literally rained down in the Evil Dead remake and it was released with an R rating. The MPAA is made up of a bunch of inconsistent morons.

    • I think it’s because that blood wasn’t coming from a body. It was just raining blood. But if it’s blood coming out of a wound they’re stricter about it.

      • joe31183

        That could be, but there also is plenty of other gore and blood in that movie that DO come from wounds. I stand by my assertion that the MPAA is made up of inconsistent morons. I’ve seen the director’s cut of scream and for the theatrical release they removed some guts falling out of a body, sped up the zoom-in on a corpse and cut a scene of blood dripping from a stab wound. Pretty tame stuff.

        • That was also 1996. Very different from 2013, when Evil Dead was released.

          • JR H

            How about them giving The Conjuring an R rating? Because it was too scary for a PG-13 rating. They just make rules up.

          • Oh yeah that still makes no sense to me lol.

    • Maykayla Robinson

      Trailers and the actual movie are two different things. That’s why people need to read comprehensively!

      • joe31183

        The article references that the MPAA rules about blood also apply to movies. It’s clear who REALLY needs to learn to read comprehensively…

        • Kenn

          The article and comments are specifically about the difference between Green Band and Red Band trailers, what does the R rating in a movie that clearly called for it have anything to do with the discussion at hand?

  • Halloween_Vic

    People were actually mad about that? Lol wow

  • Michael Josef Kappel

    Not to be that guy, but they have been doing that with blood in green band trailers for a very long time.

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