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Why Fear the End of the R-Rated Superhero Movie? 640

brumgrunt writes "Last year, Marvel said that R-rated comic book superhero movies weren't in its future plans. Now, in the light of Watchmen's box office performance, Warner Bros is going the same way, meaning high-profile comic book superhero films will be restricted to the PG-13 rating at most. But is this a bad thing, and should we fear the end of the R-rated superhero movie?"
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Why Fear the End of the R-Rated Superhero Movie?

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  • I can live with it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gruntled ( 107194 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:46AM (#27340573)

    The graphic, lovingly photographed violence in Watchmen is what kept people away. Heck, it almost kept me away.

    • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:58AM (#27340671) Journal

      That's really strange. I went into it expecting it to be violent and gory and came out of it surprised at how low-key it was. Strange how differently we saw it.
    • by cgfsd ( 1238866 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:11AM (#27340757)

      I would have loved to take my nephew (who is 11) to the Watchmen.

      Violence was not the issue, the blue schlong was the issue.
      For some reasons parents don't mind violence, but show one schlong or some boobies, and that makes the movie off limits.

      Pretty screwed up world we live in.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:18AM (#27340829)

        For some reasons parents don't mind violence,

        We are born selfish and violent, lashing out (stomping feet, hitting, biting, scratch, hitting, etc) when we don't get want.

        but show one schlong or some boobies, and that makes the movie off limits.

        OTOH, we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years. (Later, in cultures that aren't so sex-saturated as the US.)

        Pretty screwed up world we live in.

        Well, yes, but not for the reason you think.

        • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:26AM (#27340929) Journal

          I would think it is almost the opposite of what you say (in a way).

          For most people graphic violence triggers an aversion. While graphic sex triggers a pleasant tingling.

          Additioanlly most of us have/will have sex, while most won't even have a chance to gun people down. This makes it easier for violence to be isolated into the pure fantasy realm.

          • obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

            by colourmyeyes ( 1028804 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:55AM (#27341367)

            Additioanlly most of us have/will have sex,...

            Remember, this is Slashdot...

            Yeah, I almost feel bad even going for such low-hanging fruit.

          • by david duncan scott ( 206421 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:57AM (#27341393)

            I don't want to make too much from your choice of phrasing, but, "won't even have a chance to gun people down"!?

            May I suggest, "won't ever have reason to gun people down," or "won't ever be caught in a firefight"?

          • by gruntled ( 107194 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:15AM (#27342565)

            One analysis I've heard that has always intrigued me: People don't mind violence in entertainment because it's not real violence, just pretend violence. People have a visceral reaction to sex in entertainment because it is real (or is often real, I guess would be a better way to put it). Which makes the Watchmen issue particularly interesting because neither the violence or the blue yangyang were real...

          • by OldSoldier ( 168889 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:58AM (#27343279)

            I think there's something about nudity that triggers an adverse reaction in the US (at least, may also be other countries).

            My favorite movie nude/semi-nude scenes that were portrayed in an a-sexual way are:
            1) topless girl in "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" []. That girl ran around topless and everyone treated her as if she were a guy running around topless. Pretty cool.
            2) Hotel room scene in "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" []. This appears to be a post-orgy scene when everyone was just lounging around in various states of undress, but definitely not doing anything sexual. Dewey's sitting on the floor, camera is looking at his face and a naked guy walks past the camera in the foreground. Only thing you could see of the guy was his schlong. Pretty casual shot, funny as hell. May have been a scene from the "unrated DVD version".
            3) Watchmen.

            Compare this to the youtube video that occasionally springs up of a fully clothed young woman essentially doing a pole dance. The comments I've seen on the few of those I've watched are along the lines of "Yea, nothing sexual about that, way to go. Don't understand why my parents won't let me watch it." Which I usually take as the earnest utterances of a pimply faced young male teenager who just doesn't understand.

            You can do something sexy and suggestive fully clothed and you can do something ordinary and non-suggestive fully naked. Put them on film in this culture and one will net you a PG rating and the other will net you an R rating. Go figure.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Toonol ( 1057698 )
            Right. People are far more likely to make poor decisions regarding sex than they are regarding violence. Sex is a temptation, and can't be directly compared to violence... I'm not worried that my teenage son will go out and kill people. I am worried he'll let his hormones take control of him some weekend.

            That said, hiding info about sex isn't productive in my opinion; it doesn't reduce the temptation. Better to be open about it. I just wanted to point out that it's not hypocritical to draw a distinc
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Dun Malg ( 230075 )
              Yeah, as I have pointed out to "think of the children" types in the past: seeing sex on TV is not going to make your teenager a sex crazed monster full of uncontrollable hormones--- he or she is already that regardless of what they watch.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mdielmann ( 514750 )

            ...most won't even have a chance to gun people down. This makes it easier for violence to be isolated into the pure fantasy realm.

            If only there were means of violence that didn't involve guns. Perhaps like this []. The murder in Anola was blunt-force trauma. I have it on good authority that the weapon which caused that, the one the murderer turned to for his crime of passion, was a baseball bat. Do you think his two children were less affected by the violence they witnessed, the murder of their mother by their father, simply because it wasn't a gun?
            Your statement is obtuse and narrow-minded, worthy of this fantasy realm of which you

        • by mewshi_nya ( 1394329 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:27AM (#27340945)

          Ah, yes. But the very fact that we obsess over being sex-saturated makes it worse. Think Victorian times - child prostitution and deviance went through the roof, due to the repression of something NORMAL.

        • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:28AM (#27340949)

          "OTOH, we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years. (Later, in cultures that aren't so sex-saturated as the US.)"

          UH, which societies would those be? The ones that allow marriage as young as 12 or the ones that allow it even younger?

          There's this thing called biology that ensures that humans become sexually aware in their early teens, it's got very little to do with your society.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ashriel ( 1457949 )

            UH, which societies would those be? The ones that allow marriage as young as 12 or the ones that allow it even younger?

            I just want to point out that the minimum marriageable age in New Hampshire is 13; several states have no minimum marriageable age at all (California has no minimum and only requires one parent or guardian from either the bride's or the groom's side to OK a marriage).

        • by grahamd0 ( 1129971 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:43AM (#27341209)

          For some reasons parents don't mind violence,

          We are born selfish and violent, lashing out (stomping feet, hitting, biting, scratch, hitting, etc) when we don't get want.

          About half of us were also born with schlongs.

        • by Zebedeu ( 739988 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:44AM (#27341217)

          OTOH, we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years.

          It is the product of a sexually repressed society that someone could consider the sight of female breasts or a limp schlong a sexual thing.

          People go around naked in many cultures, and I've never heard that it encourages sexual behaviour in children.

          In fact, it's the most repressed cultures which tend to exhibit more sexual devian behaviour. Case in point: the catholic church.

          • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:00AM (#27341437)
            It's not the nudity itself, it's the fact that it is taboo that makes it appealing. I'd have a hard time believing that there are cultures without similar taboos, and I have a hard time believing that these taboos would be respected by hollywood and not subsequently mocked on slashdot as being dumb.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by plague3106 ( 71849 )

              I'd have a hard time believing that there are cultures without similar taboos

              Well, that just shows how little you know of the world. There's even a tribe, somewhere in Brazil I think, where you are SUPPOSED to share you wife with all the other men in the tribe. If you try to keep her to yourself, you're dishonoring her and your tribe.

          • by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:28AM (#27341817)
            And lest not forget that the Repressed sexuality of Japan and Germany leads to.... yeah. Have you seen their pr0n?
        • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@gmail.COLAcom minus caffeine> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:44AM (#27341221)

          We are born selfish and violent, lashing out (stomping feet, hitting, biting, scratch, hitting, etc) when we don't get want.

          No, we're born babies. Then we're socialized.

          OTOH, we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years. (Later, in cultures that aren't so sex-saturated as the US.)

          The average 8 year old could probably teach their parents some new things about sex. Precisely because it's a sex-saturated culture.

          Pretty screwed up world we live in.

          Well, yes, but not for the reason you think.

          Eh? Tell me again, how is seeing boobies going to scar a 6 yo kid for life? They already saw some shortly after birth. ZOMG THEY EVEN TOUCHED THEM! Think of the children! Ban breastfeeding!

          Contrast that to the disappearing pencil act in The Dark Knight. That's pure Nightmare Fuel.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by timbck2 ( 233967 )

            We (Americans) live in a society where graphic violence is pretty much OK, but show breasts, a penis, or even (OMG!) sex between consenting adults and everyone gets their panties in a wad. Our values are so screwed up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gyranthir ( 995837 )

          For some reasons parents don't mind violence,

          We are born selfish and violent, lashing out (stomping feet, hitting, biting, scratch, hitting, etc) when we don't get want.

          but show one schlong or some boobies, and that makes the movie off limits.

          OTOH, we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years. (Later, in cultures that aren't so sex-saturated as the US.)

          Pretty screwed up world we live in.

          Well, yes, but not for the reason you think.

          You've never been outside the US then have you? England after watershed. The rest of Europe all the time. Nudity is kind of a fact of life everywhere but the censor happy US....

          • by readin ( 838620 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @01:47PM (#27344859)

            You've never been outside the US then have you? England after watershed. The rest of Europe all the time. Nudity is kind of a fact of life everywhere but the censor happy US....

            I would love to see a study on it, but it seems from looking around that there is a correlation between a willingness to censor sexual behavior and low birthrates. Places like the middle east that have lots of censorship also have very high birth rates, while places like Europe and Japan that put few limits on what is shown in movies or TV have very low birthrates. the U.S., which is in between but closer to Europe and Japan is also in between in fertility with a birthrate closer to Europe and Japan. Anyone ever considered that watching sex may not be conducive having sex?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years. (Later, in cultures that aren't so sex-saturated as the US.)

          Spoken like someone who has *no clue* about sex. (Insert joke about "typicall /.'er here)

          We are sexual beings from the day we're born. My daughter started masturbating in the bathtub before she was three years old. 99% of parents will tell you the same thing - infant boys get erections, and little girls figure out pretty early that it "feels good" when they touch their genitals. It's just nature.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          we don't even start to become sexual beings until the early teen years

          That is complete bullshit. Educate yourself: []

      • by Norwell Bob ( 982405 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:33AM (#27341033)
        If you think, after having seen it, that Watchmen would be in any way acceptable for an 11 year old, your nephew's parents should get a restraining order.

        Let's see, aside from the handful of scenes of graphic violence (sawing off of arms, anyone?), how about the attempted rape, the sex scenes and, yes, the "blue schlong" that nobody can seem to wrap their minds around.

        This isn't directed at you, but many people today seem to almost WANT to expose kids to as much adult material as possible. Whether it's to prove they're "enlightened", or because they saw boobies in Nightmare on Elm St when they were 11 and thought it was cool, or what, I don't know. "Pretty screwed up world we live in", indeed.

        You can take an 11 year old to an R-rated movie, sure... but as a parent or guardian (IOW- an adult), you're supposed to exercise judgement based on your knowledge of the material, and the maturity of the child. Children DO imitate movies, whether you want to admit it or not. Face it, you yourself probably wish you could fight like Jason Bourne or sleep with pretty much any girl you want, like James Bond... but social structures and fear of looking like a moron (probably) prevent you from acting it out. Those social rules are much less effective on a child, which is why you see them acting out their favorite movie characters on the playground.

        In short, and I am sure this is an unpopular opinion these days, children are less capable than adults are when it comes to separating fantasy from reality. Hell, my 9 year old still occasionally asks me "did this really happen?" when we're watching a movie that is at least halfway plausible.
        • by Wooky_linuxer ( 685371 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:49AM (#27341295)

          Heck, I agree with you: Watchmen is not suitable for an 11 yo. There is too much gratuitous violence (some of it from the HQ, some from the director), people being blown up to pieces, sexual violence, children being beat (and beating other children),murders, realistic sex scenes, complex themes that most 11 yo won't understand.

          But it has nothing to do with Dr. Manhattan's penis. It appears because he doesn't care about clothes, not because he is about to have quantum sex with anyone. It is as sexual, in the context of the movie, as his arm or leg - he walks around naked just as a child would. I doubt any children would care about the penis - it's the fucked-up adults that instantly associate it with sexual perversion. Get over it, 50% of the human population have penises.

          Besides, it is not even big. Heck, what size are yours to be so obsessed with his?

          • by Norwell Bob ( 982405 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:24AM (#27341747)
            You'll notice that Dr. Manhattan's exposure was the last in my list, and that was with reason... it was never presented "that way", although some parents would probably find it distasteful whether their kids saw it or not. That's mostly because of our societal mores.

            In the meantime, you reminded me of a few more scenes that only the most irresponsible person could assume would be acceptable viewing for an 11 year old:
            Cold-blooded murder of a pregnant woman
            The entire child killer scene
            Young Rorschach biting another boy's cheek off

            Not to mention, how is a child supposed to understand the whole theme of Rorschach's mother being a prostitute?

            How about Sally having gone back and willingly sleeping with the Comedian AFTER he tried to rape her (and knocked her around)? If a kid is old enough to understand the attempted-rape scene, but not really old enough to grasp just how fucked-up people can be, then that whole theme will confuse the hell out of him (or, worse, her) and maybe plant a terrible seed that will bloom into some warped perceptions.

            Let's be honest with ourselves here... kids today, despite being coddled and sheltered from the outside world, are getting more and more fucked up. IMHO, that's because parents aren't paying enough, or the right kind of, attention to their kids. They assume, incorrectly, that there's nothing in their homes that can damage them, and that all the danger is outside, lurking the streets with a trench coat and a bag of lollipops. Meanwhile, they let their young children watch grown-up movies, TV shows, play M-rated video games, and surf the web unsupervised. Nobody wants to lord over their children the way we perceived that our parents smothered us... but, sorry, giving them free reign is a recipe for disaster. The new-age parenting techniques of constant praise and minimal discipline are failing. We've got 12 year old girls dressing like whores. If you let your pre-teen wear a pair of sweatpants with ANYTHING written across the seat, or a t-shirt that says "sexpot" or similar, you are a failure as a parent.

            Of course, this is my opinion, and I'm sure I'll get modded down and probably a hundred responses of "my partner and I let our 6 year old use the computer unsupervised and she has never looked at porn and is a polite and independent little treasure!" Great, good luck with that in another 6 years.
            • by krunk7 ( 748055 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:51AM (#27342179)

              Let's be honest with ourselves here... kids today, despite being coddled and sheltered from the outside world, are getting more and more fucked up.

              Most of what you say I'd agree with. The movie isn't something I'd take my kids to see, though to be honest as soon as it's out on video they'll probably watch it at johnies house after the parents are asleep. Easily gained from a torrent download and watched specifically because you forbade it.

              But kids getting worse? Really. Alarmist much? It was only in recent history that kids could even reasonably expect to be sheltered from seeing violence, sex, etc. like this in real life. And even now, the vast majority of children in the world are still exposed to things like this.

              So I guess you mean children raised in the Western world and only compared to the last couple of generations. Perhaps since the last World War/Depression. So that would be the 50's onward. But wait, that was right around the Vietnam erra. An erra where news was not sanitized for the masses to protect us from being directly exposed to the gore, death, and destruction that war causes. Unless you locked your 9 year olds in the basement, they were plenty exposed to real violence.

              So yeah, definitely not something I'd willingly expose a young child to, however this "We're all going to hell in a handbasket" routine is tired and completely unfounded.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew ( 92797 )

        Pretty screwed up world we live in.

        I'm not sure why I clicked on this story, because (ok you can suspend my nerd card) I really don't like very many comic book type movies. I just watched Batman and X-Men for the first time, and Batman was ok, maybe because I always liked the comic when I was a kid, but the suspension of disbelief is too hard to maintain. Because of this I wan't going to comment in this thread, but I saw your comment and it's not just comic book movies, it's all movies.

        The suspension of dis

  • How about rated PG? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:46AM (#27340575) Homepage

    I'd love to take my 7 year old son to a superhero movie. He saw the Fantastic Four movies, they were pretty light. But even Iron Man was too adult.

    That being said, the Dark Knight really should have been rated R. It was like watching Spinal Tap being forced to pay only at 10.

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:37AM (#27341101)

      I also like sci-fi, and unfortunately these superhero moves seem to be the nearest we get to scifi a lot of the time these days.

      So keep em bloody and full of sex, then us adults that don't care for the saw franchise or chick-flicks have something to wath that isn't constantly thinking of the children.

      Screw the children.

      (not literally, please).

  • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:48AM (#27340591)

    We should not fear that Warner Bros is ending the R-rated movies. We should fear the fact that one single company has such massive influence that we even bother talking about this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      We should not fear that Warner Bros is ending the R-rated movies. We should fear the fact that one single company has such massive influence that we even bother talking about this.

      Why? Is Warner Brothers prohibiting independent studios from making their own R-Rated superhero movies?

  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:50AM (#27340613) Journal

    ...lately, at least to me, is that they are elements of the fantastic that dovetail nicely into the hollywood version of 'the real world' that we live in. They are grittier, people are less 'cookie cutter/superficial bad guys.' In most of the non R rated superhero movies I've seen you could always walk away with the feeling that the main villain could have, at any moment, had a change of heart because he's not really evil - he's just made bad choices (lol.)

    In the darker movies, the most definitely R rated movies, you can see struggle, ugliness, depravity, insanity (not the laughable kind), all things that give the villain and the unfolding events a sense of gravitas and immorality that you can't (imho) really get from a movie that HAS TO fit in some production company's ratings 'box.'

    Personally, if there's a superhero movie where I'm not really interested in the super hero itself (for some reason), and it is R rated - there's a very good chance I'll go to see it because the director has obviously not pandered to the 13 year old boy market (although he may be pandering to me by throwing in R rated stuff.) If there's a superhero movie that I am interested in and then I find out that it is PG-13, it's unlikely that I'll see it. Perhaps on video.

    Seriously, imagine if the Dark Knight movies were made PG-13? What a loss that would have been.

    • by PunditGuy ( 1073446 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @08:59AM (#27340681)
      Haven't had my morning coffee yet. Irony detector may not be functioning.

      Batman Begins: PG-13
      The Dark Knight: PG-13
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by asills ( 230118 )

      Um, the Dark Knight was PG-13. That was part of the point of this article, had you read it ("look at the successful PG-13 comic movies!"). []

      Also part of the point was that damn, that was seriously rated PG-13 and not R?

  • When movies are being made to attract the largest viewing audience possible (and thus generate the largest revenue possible), we should not be the least bit surprised that movie companies are shying away from constricting their possible market. An R-rated movie cuts out a rather sizable chunk of the typical theater-going audience. It's a bold move to restrict your audience so much but one that does not make good "business sense." Not surprising that the studios are moving away from that.
  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:01AM (#27340707) Homepage Journal

    The only movie I saw in the last 12 months was Watchmen. Sure, Spider-man 6 might make a bigger profit, but if you concentrate only on getting the biggest possible slice of the Spider-man 6 demographic, you'll never get any money from people like me, and the industry as a whole will be poorer.

    The music business already fell into this trap, churning out countless spice-girl clones in the hope of hitting the jackpot and ignoring the fact that even if they can find a girl-group that outsells the spice girls, there are a lot of potential customers who just don't like that genre.

    If the big studios stop making $100m blockbuster R-rated movies, then a smart film company should start leveraging CGI to make $5-$10m ones to tap into that market.

    • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:22AM (#27340873)

      Honestly the frequency of R-ratings have gone up for all movies. I remember when there were countless great movies from the 1980s that were all rated PG. Now most comedies seem to be rated PG-13 and R. I don't personally have anything against R-rated movies being that I use "fuck" as a comma and have nothing against watching on-screen violence, but I'm wondering if the movie industry is hoping to move back to where it was 20 years ago. Hell, we say that they need to change how they do business, perhaps this is a step in that direction--something which they hope they will get back to a time when they feel that they were a little more successful?

      Obviously they thought that their core demographic required that they have a movie rated R to attract viewers. Instead of flashy CGI they're moving to over-the-top language and T&A to cover the fact that the dialogue kinda fucking sucks. IMHO Iron Man, while rated PG-13, wouldn't have gained anything by becoming rated R.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:56AM (#27341383)

      Watchmen was the first superhero movie I've voluntarily watched since "Mystery Men" (which was pretty funny). I despise most comic book movies (unlike Watchmen, their source materials don't DESERVE to be called "graphic novels"). They're cookie-cutter, predictable, trite pieces of FX-driven shit. I had a girlfriend who forced me to watch the first Toby Macquire "Spiderman" movie and it made me almost physically ill. God, poor Willem Defoe and the indignities he had to endure in that turd (I think he actually shakes his fist in the air at one point and yells "I'll get you Spiderman!"). Sure, that kind of candy crap is fine for kids (and those with the maturity of kids), but I'm an ADULT. Watchmen was the first superhero movie in a long time that was actually geared toward me, and not just my 13-year-old nephew (who rates the quality of movies based solely on how many cool FX shots they contain and honestly doesn't see the "bad guy vanquished/good guy wins" ending of every Batman/Superman/X-men/Shitman movie coming long before the first frame even clicks).

      The fact that so many supposed adults, when asked about the quality of Watchmen, responded with "OMG, they dared show a penis!!" shows how brain-dead and immature the average moviegoer really is. But for those of us who've matured beyond the mental age of a 14-year-old schoolgirl giggling at a Jonas Brothers video, it was a amazing anomaly--the first, and sadly probably last, adult superhero film.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

        I saw the Watchman at the midnight showing when it came out, without having read the comic. I thought the movie was brilliant (Somewhat glad, due to Dr Manhattan that the IMAX showing was sold out, but it was no more offensive than when I went to Florence and saw the statue of David).

        Frankly, sex and violence aside (both of which are super bad-ass and keww'), I quite enjoyed the ambiguity of who is a good guy/bad guy. Adrian nukes a bunch of cities in order to stop a nuclear war, and he's supposed to be t

  • Batman vs Watchmen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:05AM (#27340723)

    I think the wwriter is failing to take something into account.
    I'd heard of Batman all my life - never heard of watchmen until this movie. I suspect I'm not the only one.

    For an accurate comparison, they should do an r-rated Batman.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:14AM (#27340793)

    Apparently Americans don't want full frontal nudity in their superhero movies.

  • PG-13 is the new R (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wild_dog! ( 98536 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:15AM (#27340805)
    The only thing that people fear is women's naked bodies and maybe some excess swearing. Those movies end up with an R rating. Of course V for Vendetta did get an R so there are still some levels of violence that will garner an R. Things like Dark Knight would have ended up with an R rating in the past. No longer. The boundaries of these things are constantly being pushed. A while back I had the ducts in my house cleaned and we found some old stashed gentlemens magazines. The average Redbook or Vanity Fair magazines have more nudity in them than these old porn magazines did. 10 years from now V for vendetta might also fall into the PG-13 category.
  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:16AM (#27340809)

    Yes, it won't be huge profit, but come on, for such violent and anti-mainstream experiment they got nice cash back. It is 165m (costed 120m), and it is only third week.

    I love movie, I only would like to be it more itself not just a copy of living very good comic book. However, it would require to move sideways from original material.

    Anyway, I think team who made it have proven their point. Kudos to them, all actors especially.

    • by Narpak ( 961733 )
      Something that is not mentioned is that this movie was released to a financial market a lot more dampened than just a year, or two years ago. I find it hard to believe that the financial situation hasn't lessened somewhat peoples desire and capacity to go to the cinema.

      Further more I would like to say that I think Hollywood wastes a lot of money on making movies; that is not to say that movies don't take money; or that certain movies don't deserve a big budget. However, I think that during the last years
  • write a real movie (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eples ( 239989 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:16AM (#27340811)
    Howabout Hollywood writes something original and new instead of rehashing old material over and over again? Put any rating on it you want.
  • by JerryLove ( 1158461 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:20AM (#27340857)

    I'd love to live in a world where movies were made how best the story could be told and the ratings were figured out later... but it comes down to simple economics.

    The R-rated version of a movie might be the better one, but reducing it to PG-13 is not going to cost as many people as it gains.

    IOW. People who want Watchmen as PG and won't go to R > people who want it R and won't go to PG.

    It's the same problem in the video game world. It's not that niche' games won't sell... it's that non-niche' games sell better.

  • Failure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thumper_SVX ( 239525 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:29AM (#27340961) Homepage

    Is Watchmen really a failure? I mean, for an R-rated comic book movie, it's doing pretty well in my opinion. But that's not really the subject of the article.

    The problem with Watchmen is not the R rating, at least in my opinion. The problem is the changes made to the ending that really changed the tone of it, and thus changed the meaning of the ending.

    Let's look at it this way. Watchmen is a source material about which people are passionate. It was a seminal piece of comic book art, a graphic novel before there were graphic novels, and as the first of a genre it has a rather devout following. I know, I read it on first release... and re-read it... and re-read it... and yes, I loved it. However, in the intervening years (decades? OMG... I'm old!) I have not touched the source material and as such somewhat grew away from it. I re-read it last year as an adult and although I still found it to be an incredible piece of art, I found that it didn't resonate with me the same way it did when I was 13 and 14 (when it was first released). I still loved it, but in the way you do an ex girlfriend with whom you had a "soft breakup" because you grew apart instead of a difficult one.

    I went to see the movie, and was blown away. 90% of the movie was damned close to the comic book... closer than I would've expected from Hollywood... and it would've been impossible to get that close without an R rating. The original comic book should have had an R rating as well! The ending though, had a different meaning for me than the comic. I won't spoil it here, but it IS different. However, for me it did not fundamentally change the tone of the entire movie... and in fact I think the comic book ending would've been less accessible to a more general audience and probably would've looked somewhat ridiculous on screen.

    OK, call me an heretic. I enjoyed both of them but for different reasons. But the R rating is not the reason for the lackluster box office!

    Here's my theory; the box office taking are low because of two things; (1) The Watchmen is a comic book that appealed to a niche, and (2) that niche is typically the very technically savvy.

    OK, let's expand on that a little:

    (1) Watchmen didn't appeal to a wider audience because it had a lot less exposure. Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man... all highly identifiable characters with a long history in print. All of them are part of the common consciousness that we have in the Western world, and all are characters we can visualize easily. Rorschach, Nite Owl, Doc Manhattan... who? These were all characters created for Watchmen because Alan Moore wasn't given the go-ahead to use the characters he wanted to... those with an history.

    The upshot of this is that we have characters that only a small subsection of our society identifies with because they never really got into the social consciousness the way the more "iconic" characters did. This means that Hollywood produces a Watchmen movie, and the characters are new to the average viewer... and the average viewer doesn't want new; they want more of the same.

    There's also this idea in the public consciousness that superhero's are always good, always doing the right thing. Watchmen's moral ambiguity on the part of ALL of the characters means that the average viewer won't identify their icons within the context of the movie, and thus won't connect with them. They're looking for simple... black and white. Watchmen is full of shades of grey.

    (2) Because the subset of society is mostly tech-savvy, it means that they are going to read reviews of the movie before they go see it, usually written on websites by people with similar tastes... the blind leading the blind in a sense. This leads to one or two slightly negative reviews driving away the very core audience that was most likely to see it.

    I refer in part to Massawyrm's review of Watchmen on Aint It Cool News [] (for which I can't find a direct link right now, sorry!) in which he slammed the movie

  • by murr ( 214674 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:30AM (#27340975)

    I'm looking forward to NC-17 rated superhero movies instead.

    "Bigger, Bluer, and Uncut!"

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:40AM (#27341159) not the age rating, its the dichotomy of trying to produce a movie with "arthouse" audience appeal with special effects that dictate a popcorn blockbuster budget.

    I'm sure Watchmen could have been made PG-13 by cutting a few minutes. Giving Dr Manhatten a thong might lose a minor point about his diminishing humanity, but its hardly going to ruin the movie; and it should be possible to establish that Rorschach was Not a Nice Person without employing an angle grinder.

    However... would that have stopped 13-year olds (who might not "get" the politics, psychology or the artistic application of comic-book visual styles to cinematography) from being absolutely bored to tears after an hour and a half? Doubt it.

    Ironically, when I watched it, the cinema was plugging their latest wheeze: by popular demand, over-18s-only screenings of PG/12A movies. So, obviously no market for 18-and-over-films.

    Of course, this is in the UK where Watchmen was certificate 18, and most cinemas do at least try not to let in anybody holding a teddy bear; There's also a 15 cert which gets used for things like Serenity, V for Vendetta and the DVDs of the new BSG. "Watchman" could almost certainly have been trimmed down to a 15.

    Sounds like the US could do with something between PG-13 and R (spurious precision, of course, but this is a political game, not a practical one).

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:01AM (#27341453)

    Comic book films for the most part have been terrible. I dont care about their ratings, I care about their content! That is where they suffer.

    Films should not be made to fit a certain rating. A rating should be assigned based on the content within the film. That content should be the artist's vision.

  • It didn't fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:09AM (#27341549)
    Looking purely at the numbers, by the third week the worldwide box office receipts [] are $148,909,463. The production cost was around $130,000,000. Factor in publicity and a few non-production costs and they are probably around break even right now. Anything they earn from here on out is profit.
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @10:24AM (#27341745) Homepage Journal

    As in it was a work of art - not a commercial for toys.

    I thought it was perfect. Everything about it was gritty and sublime. Super heroes, super problems. An alternate timeline where superheroes destroy the VC in vietnam and with as much ignorance and lack of humanity as was present in our own timeline? Then as a result Nixon is hailed and re-elected 3 times? Wonderful social commentary on what could have been.

    Watchmen was about a real scenario where people have super-powers, all the ignorance and corruption and pettiness mixed up with noble intentions, fear driven obsessions and moral paranoia which would affect our society if this was the norm.

    You want a story that matches up with this and is kid safe? Watch The Incredibles. It has a similar timeline but leaves out all the confusing parts. Want something more adult but still sanitized.. watch that Will Smith movie (at least he's a drunk).

    The Watchmen did very well in it's opening weekend when all the fans went out to see it. No it did not appeal to the masses... did it have to? There are a lot of films that don't convert into blockbusters but are considered to be incredible works that stand on their own merit (rather than how much money they bring in).

    Pop culture can have it's heroes, just let those of us who aren't afraid to experience a different reality have a few of our own.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:22AM (#27342695) Homepage
    Watchmen could have easily toned down the sex and violence. I mean seriously, we get the point, they're having sex. We don't need the scene to go on for a minute and a half (although the fire jet as apparent orgasm symbol was funny). Similarly, we didn't need the length of violence in which the Comedian is killed. It was more detailed and longer than the comic. The sex and violence could have been reduced and then we could have had the plot from the book, i.e. giant squid not crap that doesn't make sense duplicating Dr. Manhattan's power. In this case, if they had tried to make a PG-13 movie it would have been better.
    • Yea, why not make it a saturday morning cartoon. []

      Surely none of the artistic meaning would be lost...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They could have, indeed. Why would they want to?

      Schindler's List: Now with Less Sad Stuff!

      American History X: Now with less nasty racism and no curb stomping scene!

      Full Metal Jacket: Did they really have to use racial slurs against Asians? No, in this new imagining!

      What a load of shit.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard