Movie Marketing

Warner Bros. Undercuts Batman v Superman With Rating News

You’ve probably read the news that’s been circulating recently about how Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is coming out next month and has been rated PG-13, will get some sort of ultimate edition on home video that will be rated R. The news seems to be a reaction to everyone learning the wrong lesson from Deadpool’s success, that making something R-rated will make it instantly more attractive. Suddenly Hollywood is falling over itself to tell the press that this or that movie will be rated R. It’s a veritable avalanche.

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More than that, though, I can’t help but feel like this sudden “We’re edgy too” move by WB Pictures will have a negative impact on the theatrical film and shows a startling lack of faith in the movie that’s hitting theaters next month.

By confirming this news and seeming to take such pride in doing so the studio is, in my opinion, giving people a reason not to see the theatrical movie. “No no…the *real* version is coming out six months later” is the message that’s being sent. Suddenly the theatrical release, already bending under the weight of trailers that have not been received well by the masses and expectations director Zack Snyder is delivering a grim, color-saturated slugfest, becomes a lesser product. It’s now positioned as being watered-down and diluted, not the pure experience that fans will actually enjoy.

I know the studio thinks it’s riding the wave of popular conversation right now, inserting BvS into the bigger narrative of a comic book-based movie that did unexpectedly well. What it’s actually doing though is depositioning a movie that should be the launching point for the entire rest of their super hero slate. Which is too bad since BvS looks like it might be a good movie, even if it will likely be excruciatingly self-serious.

No, all this may not actually negatively impact Batman v Superman’s box-office. The people who have already decided they’re going to see it in theaters probably won’t have their minds changed by this. But it certainly can’t help the undecided people out there. Now they might just want for the “real” version to come out later this year. So any potential gains from home video sales down the road are likely coming at the expense of additional box office ticket sales.

Overall this is just a really odd spin to put on the movie, to deposition it like this, in advance of the theatrical release.

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