Increased levels of sex, language, violence and gore are by no means a guarantee of quality, but there’s always skepticism when a property that’s been R-rated makes a sudden shift into PG-13 territory. Obviously, the decision is typically a financial one, with the studios in question more often than not banking on a wider audience bringing in bigger box office returns.
It’s always a risky strategy, and in the case of action franchises, it generally yields disappointment. The worst entries for Die Hard, Terminator and The Expendables all abandoned the R-rating that was key to their initial popularity, while crossover Alien vs. Predator was the first PG-13 effort in either series, and a major letdown.
You can also add the RoboCop remake to that list, which sanded down all of the edges that made Paul Verhoeven’s original stand out among a crowded pack of 1980s actioners, and the end result was a sanitized sci-fi blockbuster, albeit one that did decent business after hauling in over $240 million globally.
In a recent interview, star Joel Kinnaman admitted that he found himself in hot water with the studio after claiming that his RoboCop would be R-rated shortly after he was first cast as the title hero, and went as far as saying that only an idiot would think otherwise.
“The first interview I did for RoboCop, and it was right after I was cast. I got the first questions for RoboCop, and the question was, ‘So, is it going to be R-rated?’. And I was like, ‘Of course, it’s going to be R-rated! Only an idiot would make RoboCop a PG-13 movie’. Cut to the next morning, 47 missed calls I woke up to.
Clearly the actor didn’t get the memo from Sony, and it would have been hilarious to imagine the conversations Kinnaman was forced to have the following day after obliviously blasting a PG-13 RoboCop. Some additional violence and foul language might have elevated it slightly, but there were a lot more problems with the movie than just the rating.