I’m typically the voice of reason. I’m pro-found-footage (it’s just a perspective), remakes/reboots don’t necessarily bother me (a good movie is a good movie), and the rating of a film usually doesn’t dictate its quality. Let’s talk about the latter.
This weekend, not one, but two horror films have been butchered in order to receive a “PG-13” rating from the MPAA. Both The Meg director Jon Turteltaub and star Jason Statham have openly expressed disdain over their summer blockbuster being neutered throughout production to ensure a more teen-friendly rating. This one comes as a shocker as it’s an adaptation of a vicious and violent book, which has turned into an action comedy that even Statham admits wasn’t what he signed up for. While the studio was trying to get more asses in the seats, the film is tracking abysmally as of this writing, which has this writer raising a curious eyebrow.
Also opening tonight (we’re pretty sure) is Sony Screen Gems’ Slender Man, an adaptation of a popular internet meme that should have been the birth of a new horror icon. Instead, some of the film’s troubles went public, with reports that producers and Sony didn’t see eye to eye on distribution and that the producers had attempted to sell it to another distributor. After that fell through, Screen Gems moved up the release to try and capture the teens before they head back to school. Only, it’s now going up against The Meg, which was supposed to be an “R”-rated bloodbath targeting a different demographic. Sources tell us that Slender Man has similar behind-the-scenes issues and had several sequences chopped in order to force a PG-13 rating. So, while Slender Man was adjusting to “their audience”, The Meg was doing the same, which could cause a catastrophe at the box office this weekend.
But I think the problem runs deeper. Studios are still afraid to release an “R”-rated movie and it’s once again getting in the way of a filmmaker’s ability to tell their story the way it’s meant to be told. A new article on Variety just sent me over the deep end, with them reporting that their Venom adaptation could be rated PG-13.
“Some members of Sony’s brain trust believe that the film should push the very limits of PG-13 without crossing over into a higher rating.”
The reasoning behind this decision is sound, but it’s hard to not be livid over this possible change, which feels like a slap in the face to everyone from the fans straight up to director Ruben Fleischer. Especially since all of this confusingly comes on the heels of massive “R”-rated success stories from Deadpool to Logan, IT, Get Out, and many more.
According to the article, the feeling is that [a PG-13 rating] will give the studio greater leeway for future installments that will feature Spider-Man, something Venom – [as currently constructed] – does not do. Any Spider-Man movie will carry a PG-13 rating because the wall-crawler is more family friendly, and if Venom is too dark and gory, it might preclude other film match-ups, not just with Peter Parker’s alter-ego, but also with other members of the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
This makes plenty of sense, but as a hardcore fan of the character and comics, I’d rather have no Venom movie than one that’s PG-13. In fact, I don’t even know how you even think about exploring a Carnage-based sequel if you’re going to fuck around with the film and character’s tone? Shit, they’re about to go into pre-production on Morbius, a “living vampire” who also was birthed in the “Amazing Spider-Man” comics. Would this be PG-13 as well? Once you open Pandora’s Box, it can’t be closed, and Sony is playing with some serious fire here. Do they really think crushing the spirit of Venom is going to help them birth a universe around the characters Silk, Jackpot, and Nightwatch? This is comedy. GTFO.
“We” are Venom? Yeah, we’ll see about that.