It’s become sort of a tradition with Sylvester Stallone‘s epic action series The Expendables—each movie is rumored to possibly be getting a PG-13 rating, then ultimately ends up with an R when it’s all said and done. The Expendables 2 famously had Chuck Norris state that the movie would be PG-13 (because young fans shouldn’t have to hear naughty language while watching bad guys get mowed down by big f’n guns), which was confirmed by Stallone, only later to be changed to an R.
As The Expendables 3 has approached, rumors of a PG-13 rating have of course made the rounds. But now comes word that the rating is no longer a rumor, but a sad fact. According to reports, the MPAA has given the teen-friendly flick the rating due to violence, including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and language.
Some would argue that we live in a time where a PG-13 rating simply does not matter anymore—and that’s sometimes true, depending on the movie. I personally don’t usually share that opinion, but am open to being proven wrong. But The Expendables is different. The reasons people get a little put off by the PG-13 is because a significant part of the appeal of these movies is the fact that they remind many of us of the adult-aimed over-the-top R-rated action movies we grew up with, especially in the ’80s. When we were too young to be watching such movies but did anyway, and loved every minute of it. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s return to acting hasn’t been exciting because he’s been making critically acclaimed movies; it’s been exciting because he picked up right where he left off, making the kick-ass R-rated kinds of movies he was best known for in the ’80s and ’90s. And that’s awesome. Do what you do best.
Whether this will affect the final Expendables 3 product or not, only time will tell. The original movie cost $80 million to make, and brought in $274.4 million worldwide. Not great, but not bad at all, especially with an R-rating. Its sequel upped the budget to $100 million and scored $305.4 million worldwide. Again, not great, but still a solid performance at the box office. With the trilogy-maker it appears they’ve decided to go for the home run. Lower the rating to PG-13, make the movie more accessible to youths, and hope it pays off big time. But the risk is that the first two movies did as well as they did because of that ’80s action movie nostalgia factor, and losing that will do more harm than good.
With a massive cast that includes Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz, and Glen Powell, they certainly have more than enough faces to attract a crowd. But whether that crowd will show up to theaters, wait for home video and streaming options, or not bother at all—we shall see. Gibson playing the villain especially stands out. Can he really be the kinda batshit crazy we know he can be—and expect him to be in many of his movies—when restricted for the eyes of impressionable teens?
One thing is for sure: if The Expendables 3 ends up backtracking and gets its rating changed to an R before release, it’s going to become pretty clear that this is all just part of the franchise’s marketing plan. And if that’s the case, damn you Stallone…and well-played.
The movie is set to be released on August 15th, and if you’ve not yet seen a trailer, you can do so right here.
Will you still see The Expendables 3 with a PG-13 rating, or is that a deal-killer for you?