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Ponderin’: Why ‘Avatar’ Will Be PG-13


Amidst rumors of James Cameron’s “Avatar” and its blossoming budget (over half-a-billion!?), I would like to make a point. The film doesn’t even have a rating yet. However, even thinking there is a remote possibility that it gets an R rating would be pretty wild. Hit the jump to read why.

Even conservative estimates have pegged the film with an estimated $300 million dollar budget and with that in mind, let’s look at the top domestic grossing R-rated films.

“The Passion of the Christ” raked in $370 million dollars in 2004. The next highest? 2003’s “The Matrix Reloaded”, which claimed $281 million.

Now, understand these are only domestic grosses, and “Reloaded” did end up making the largest worldwide gross for any R-rated film with over $782 million. While that is a respectable number, look at a list of the highest grossing films, and Cameron’s own 1997 worldwide juggernaut, “Titanic”, sits at the top. The film also got damn close to bringing in $2 billion dollars in worldwide gross with over $600 million in domestic gross alone.

The rating? PG-13.

Look at the most recent worldwide blockbuster, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, and it cracked the billion dollar worldwide mark late in its 2008 limited return at theaters to go with $533 million in domestic.

Rating? PG-13.

Let’s say that the total production budget is in fact over $500 million dollars. That would nearly double 2007’s $258 million “Spider-Man 3” budget, which was insane at the time.

Rating? PG-13.

If you see a trend, there is a reason. Naturally, a PG-13 film, especially a blockbuster like those mentioned above, stands to make a higher gross by putting a wider range of ages in the seats compared to an R-rated film.

We should also consider that Cameron is aiming this towards 3-D. He wants to push the technology beyond a gimmick and show how it can be essential to enveloping the audience in his alien world of Pandora. More than that, Cameron wants to showcase the technology he has worked on for years and get even more theaters to install 3-D projectors. He wants this to be the film that everyone wants to see in 3-D. To make that extra dimension an essential part of the experience.

He wants to revolutionize the way we see films.

There is also the factor of an ever-shrinking home-video market that makes this film aimed straight at theaters. This needs to be a film that gives people an extra push to go sit in a crowded theater.

With that goal, you need a film that parents can bring their kids to. You need a film that has an enormous target audience. A film that has a PG-13 rating.

Before you shout at the screen, wailing about how watered down a PG-13 sci-fi film will be, know that mature films have been made with that same rating. “The Dark Knight” immediately comes to mind.

Others? Cameron’s own aim, to top Star Wars, is based on a franchise that has never sniffed an R rating, yet they maintain a level of fandom many R-rated films could only dream of having.

This is why I think “Avatar” will have parents and kids lining up for 3-D showings on December 18, 2009. I also predict that the film will make back its production budget and usher in a franchise that might explode, as Star Wars did when it first released.

Even if the film falls short of a phenomenon, Cameron’s sheer scope and ambition should be celebrated in a world of remakes and sequels.


November 25, 2009 - Posted by | Ponderin' | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Official: ‘Avatar’ Has PG-13 Rating Well, by now you probably have noticed that my prediction (I know, I aim high, right?) for “Avatar” getting a PG-13 rating would up being true. […]

    Pingback by It’s Official: ‘Avatar’ Has PG-13 Rating « Goin' to the Movies | December 7, 2009 | Reply

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