As many a writer for Ain’t It Cool News likes to point out, Sylvester Stallone likes to call them on weekends and remind them that The Expendables is “crazy hard-R.” But while that may be true for the moment, we’re getting some interesting news this week that indicates potential studio pressure to take the Stallone, Statham, Li, and everyone else with a reputation actioner down a notch for a PG-13 rating.
Hollywood Elsewhere front man Jeff Wells has the information from “a guy,” saying that the reason the most recent Expendables trailer was nothing more than an orgy of names and voice-over is because Lionsgate is currently trying to convince Stallone to cut away from some of the brutal killings, tone down the language and try to get a more accessible rating from the MPAA.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s okay, I’m thinking it too. Going to PG-13 territory would effectively neuter The Expendables, stripping away that which has fans most excited — the promise of wanton violence. It would be a devastating choice to make for Stallone, who has promised a ballsy team-up like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
On the other side is the studio, whose lone goal is to get people in the doors to see the flick. What’s curious about this story is that Lionsgate isn’t the kind of house that shies away from an R-rating. They let Kick-Ass crash and burn at the box office as it grasped tightly to its rating. This is the studio that makes Saw movies, for crying out loud. If they really are trying to get Sly to make changes to his film, there’s something else wrong. That last trailer was suspect. And while I don’t believe for a minute that Stallone is dumb enough to go PG-13, the vibe from Expendables post-production is bad and getting worse by the day.
I wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes. I suppose we’ll know more when the movie drops into theaters on August 13.
UPDATE: We received a note from Lionsgate early this afternoon saying that there is no PG-13 version of The Expendables on the horizon. They also noted that the film’s Official Website has been updated to show the R-rating. I’ve screencapped it below. Every ounce of me believes them on this one. Mostly because (a) Lionsgate has never shied away from edgy material and (b) even the most dimwitted studio exec would know that making a film like The Expendables PG-13 would be an awful idea.