Back to IndieWire

PG13 Rating for ‘Expendables 3’ Was a Mistake Says Stallone + Potential ‘Expendables 4’ Story

PG13 Rating for 'Expendables 3' Was a Mistake Says Stallone + Potential 'Expendables 4' Story

I recall calling the move to make a PG-13 “Expendables” a buzz-kill, when the movie’s MPAA rating was announced before its release over the summer.

Yes, I know, a movie can be rated PG-13 and still be uproarious, but, come on! The first 2 “Expendables” movies were rated R, and for good reason. I was looking forward to an even more irreverent “Expendables 3” movie over the summer – the bloody violence, strong language, grisly, disturbing images and more, not aimed at the PC crowd, that would ensure parental guidance stickers. But that didn’t quite happen.

Maybe I was inflating things a bit, but it made me a tad nervous about what “The Expendables 3” was going to look and sound like, as the 3rd film in a franchise of old-school testosterone-filled romps, featuring a who’s who of classic action movie stars, in unapologetically combustible entertainment. One certainly doesn’t go into these movies expecting *safe*, family-friendly, Oscar-caliber material. It’s all escapist spectacle, and the kind of adrenaline shot the summer movie season needs – especially towards the end of the season, as studios transition to the usual parade of fall Academy Award bait releases.

But I suppose with an even higher budget than the previous 2 movies in the franchise (the 1st cost $80 million; the 2nd $100 million), one can assume that the film’s distributor, Lionsgate, wanted to make the 3rd film widely accessible, hence the PG-13 rating.

Apparently, the man behind the franchise, as well as its star, Sylvester Stallone, agrees – albeit a little too late! In an interview with Crave magazine, published yesterday, in anticipation of the film’s Blu-ray release, Stallone reveals that the Blu-ray disc includes an EXTENDED UNRATED version of “Expendables 3,” which I’m only just finding out about, and, maybe shouldn’t be much of a surprise. And when asked whether he believes any future “Expendables” movies should be R-rated from the start, Stallone replied with: “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.”

And thank goodness for that! A lesson to Hollywood: give the audience what it wants.

Domestically, the 3rd movie was a MAJOR box office failure, earning just around $39 million, far less than the over $105 million the first film made, and the $89 million the second earned – again, keeping in mind that the 3rd was also the most expensive of the 3, while earning a lot less than its predecessors. Although, in terms of global box office, the 3rd film has grossed just over $206 million, which is certainly nothing to scoff at; but it’s still far less than what the first 2 films did also globally – $305 million and $275 million respectively.

And finally, there’s apparently going to be a 4th film in the franchise – and not the all-woman “Expendables” that’s in development, but a 4th film with the male cast. And when asked about what “Expendables 4” could be about, Stallone shared that he’d entertain a story that would see the guys place in “such an unnatural environment that it, in and of itself, creates extra suspense and tension: the “fish out of water” scenario. That environment might not be time travel, but nearly just as jarring.”

With regards to the “time travel” mention, he was referring to director Patrick Hughes sharing, during an interview of the summer, when “Expendables 3” was on its way to theaters, that he would like to take the “Expendables” go back in time to the first half of the 20th century, to fight Hitler in the fourth installment!

I doubt that story will eventually fly, but ya never know!

“Expendables 3” marked Wesley Snipes’ first major gig post-prison, after serving a 3-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania for tax evasion, and I expected that his presence alone would be a draw, if only because audiences (especially fans of his) would be absolutely thrilled to see him on the big screen again, doing what he does best, after what seemed like ages since his last hit. 

But not just him. Snipes was part of an ensemble cast of heavy-hitters like Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, fresh faces who both joined the existing group that includes Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Jason Statham and others. 

Also, Kelsey Grammer and Antonio Banderas are in this one as well.

“The Expendables 3” is now on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital & VOD.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox