Constantine Director Reveals Why The Movie Was Given An R-Rating

Keanu Reeves Constantine

As well as celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year, Constantine has also found itself back in the headlines as rumors continue to swirl about a potential sequel. After all, with the DCEU in the midst of a resurgence in creativity, any franchise that has the chance to make a comic book movie with Keanu Reeves in the lead role would be foolish not to jump at the opportunity.

The actor has admitted in the past that he’d love to play the role again, and while the occult detective is an integral member of the Justice League Dark team that are set to get their own HBO Max show spearheaded by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, recent announcements surrounding the multiverse mean that having Reeves reprise the role in a standalone big screen sequel isn’t outside the realms of possibility.

Constantine was a solid if unspectacular hit when it first landed in theaters back in 2005, where it would go on to earn $230 million against a $100 million budget. During a time where every comic book property under the sun was getting the movie treatment, one of the major reasons why the loose adaptation of Hellblazer failed to find a bigger audience is that it came burdened with an R-rating, eliminating much of the target demographic from the equation.

In a recent interview, director Francis Lawrence revealed that he had followed all the rules to ensure that Constantine ended up securing a PG-13 rating only for it to get slapped with an R, even though he freely admits that if he’d known ahead of time then he’d have gone all-in on making it as adult-orientated as possible.

“Warners dictated that it had to be PG-13 because of what it cost. And we actually got this sort of list of guidelines of what you can do and what you can’t do in a PG-13 movie. And we followed those rules to a T. And we screened it for the MPAA, and I remember hearing that they got about five minutes in and put their notepads down and said that we got a hard R for ‘tone.’ And so this is not something that’s on the list. I think it was ‘an overwhelming sense of dread’ was what I heard that they had from the opening scene onward. And they didn’t think there was anything that we could do about it. Basically what we had was a PG-13 movie that got an R rating. Which just killed me, because it’s like if we were gonna get an R rating, I would’ve made an R-rated movie. We could’ve really gone for it in terms of intensity and violence and language and all those kinds of things. We got a bit screwed on that front. And we did try to fight, but we obviously didn’t win that battle.”

Constantine isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, but there’s very little that seems R-rated by today’s standards. And should the reboot end up happening in the near future, you can guarantee that it’ll be PG-13 to capitalize on both Reeves’ massive popularity and the renewed sense of interest and optimism that surrounds the DCEU at large these days.