About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.
Entertainment Weekly


Will summer see the return of the R-rated blockbuster?

Posted on

This summer, underage moviegoers across the nation will get to do something they haven’t done in years: sneak into R-rated action movies. Or at least they’ll finally have an opportunity to try.

Granted, on May 15, most people will actually buy their tickets to ”The Matrix Reloaded”; the film will likely have the biggest opening weekend for an R-rated movie in history. Unspooling on more than 3,000 screens, it’s the widest R release Hollywood has ever attempted — not to mention the most expensive. And in its wake will come even more big-budget event films with probable R ratings. Later this summer, there will be ”T3: Rise of the Machines,” ”Bad Boys II,” and ”Exorcist: The Beginning,” along with such cheaper R-rated comedies as ”American Wedding,” the third slice of ”American Pie.”

After years of PG-13-rated fluff filled with bloodless gunplay and an alarming paucity of gratuitous nudity — films like ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” ”The Mummy,” and ”Men in Black” — the big-budget R-rated bone cruncher is ready for a gut-splattering comeback. ”People are being as aggressive about R-rated movies as they’ve been in years,” says Rob Moore, a partner at Revolution Studios. ”You’ve got three R-rated movies each costing well over $100 million. And they’re going to be three of the biggest movies of the summer. I would definitely not say that the R-rated movie is dead.”

Not anymore, anyway. But for a time it looked on the verge of flatlining. Over the past decade, the number of major studio releases with R ratings has dropped as much as 50 percent, and last year not one made the list of top 20 grossers. ”Those sorts of movies don’t make economic sense anymore,” says a publicity executive at a studio that once made lots of R-rated movies (and which probably will again, when they get a peek at ”Reloaded”’s grosses). ”It’s impossible to make your money back.”

It’s certainly much more difficult, especially because teenagers continue to be the genre’s best customers. ”With an R rated movie, you’ve got 20 to 30 percent of your potential audience unable to get in without a parent,” calculates Chris McGurk, vice chair/COO of MGM, home to the always PG-13 James Bond franchise. ”When you’re spending $100 million or more, you can’t afford the risk. It’d be like going in with one hand tied behind your back.”

Both hands, actually, because there’s another demographic causing problems for R-rated releases: politicians. After the 1999 Columbine tragedy, Hollywood was cast as a villain by such senators as John McCain and Joseph Lieberman (both of whom were running for national office at the time). The studio heads were dragged before Congress and arm-twisted into public promises not to market violent R-rated movies to minors. Ever since, it’s been a nightmare marketing any R-rated movie to anyone.