While seeming like a one-off gag, the Sylvester Stallone driven series that features a cavalcade of action stars from film present and past, The Expendables has rapidly grown into a box-office phenomenon with the first film landing a meaty $275 million, and the second grossing a total of $311 million. However, despite the combined income of the first two films totaling over $550 million, the most recent entry in the franchise didn’t pan out as planned.
This past summer, The Expendables 3 barely crossed the $200 million mark at the box-office on a $100 million budget, and while box-office is never entirely predictable – just ask Guardians of the Galaxy – many have been pointing to the movie’s PG-13 rating as the main reason for its disappointing numbers, and we agree. The Expendables is a throwback franchise to a time when action films featured realistic violence in a hyper-real world. This means blood. This means bullets. This means adult entertainment. But, in attempt to reach a wider audience, everyone agreed the latest film in the franchise should be rated PG-13 so teenagers could watch it in theaters (without sneaking in), and this was their flaw in reasoning.
We’re not saying teenagers don’t go see action films, but as proven by Guardians of the Galaxy, the younger demographic doesn’t always have the same nostalgia for 80s and 90s action stars like mid 20s and up audiences do. By making the last film PG-13, it essentially alienated a giant chunk of the franchise’s core audience by saying “We know you’ll come no matter what, so we need to go after the ones that don’t.” But that’s now how The Expendables crowd works. They aren’t going to show up for a watered down PG-13 film when they can just wait for a simple blu ray release.
However, now with the home-release of Expendables 3 nearly upon us, the series grand-puba’s making clear he’ll never make a PG-13 mistake like that again:
In an interview with Crave Online, Stallone stated the following on whether future film’s in the series, starting with the in development Expendables 4, will remain R rated: “Absolutely unequivocally yes. I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience, but in doing such, diminish the violence that the audience expects. I’m quite certain it won’t happen again.”
By speaking with their wallets, Expendables fans have completely changed the attitude of the people behind the scenes who’ve been pushing for a PG-13 rating since the second film was in production. It’s actually a little nice to know audience dollars can still make a difference in the world of Hollywood franchising. So thanks for finally setting the record straight, Sly. We appreciate it and will catch you on the next one. Although, the next one better include way more Terry Crews.
Do you think Expendables 3 would have been a better movie if rated R? Let us know in the comments below.