There are usually one or two executives at every studio whose main job it is to attempt to work with the MPAA ratings board to nip here or tuck there to achieve a desired rating for each film. Sometimes these negotiations become quite contentious. Harvey Weinstein has duked it out with the board on several occasions. Suffice it to say, whoever handles this job for Disney deserves a new Porsche (or at least a hefty raise) for the job they did in securing a straight PG on “Maleficent”. Let’s get real…with rare exception the G rated wide release film went the way of film sprockets and Care Bears movies so PG is for all intents and purposes the minimum rating with which a film sets sail nowadays. Recent PG offerings include “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return”, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” and “One Direction: This Is Us”. Now unless I’m mistaken I don’t remember Harry & The Boys being surrounded by dark and scary tree monsters, wolves threatening to attack poor Sherman or “Legends of Oz” having too many battle scenes. Yet, somehow the movie got its PG and as such secured as wide a range of quadrants as possible that eventually totaled up to almost $70 million. Well done, Disney.
Two months ago it would have been difficult envisioning “A Million Ways To Die In The West” coming in at $17 million in its opening stanza but that it did as moviegoers decided they’d much prefer the known quantity of “Neighbors” over Seth MacFarlane and a supporting cast not exactly known for their comedic prowess (Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson). In fact, “Neighbors” fell by the lowest percentage of any film in the Top 10 this weekend with the exception of limited release “Chef”, which added 125 runs.
Oh and speaking of “Chef”, bravo to both Open Road and Fox Searchlight for picking dead-on release dates and distribution platforms. Both “Chef” and “Belle” have benefited from being the only serious adult fare in the marketplace with very little to no competition from any indie releases during late May and early June. “Jersey Boys” and possibly “The Rover” could cut into the runs on both of the aforementioned titles but those films don’t appear on the release schedule landscape for a few weeks.