If you saw the first trailer for the Conan the Barbarian remake, which debuted only a few hours ago on the internet, you probably wondered just exactly what kind of movie this was going to be. The original Conan was a hard-R film, full of brutal violence and plenty of nudity. That was appropriate, because, well, the film does have the word “barbarian” in the title. Barbarian’s aren’t a comfortable Fast Five PG-13.

But in the film’s first trailer you see a lot of family friendly explosions and slashing swords that don’t connect with anything while wrapped in a healthy cocoon of Hollywood CGI. Obviously movie trailers, even trailer for rated-R movies, can’t show rated-R content. But there’s not even a hint in this trailer that rated-R content might exist somewhere else in the film. If you haven’t seen it, give it a watch right now:


See what I mean? Actually this trailer seems nothing like the movie hinted at by some of the set photos which leaked out during the production. They showed Conan hanging out in a virtual orgy, the kind of gathering of boobs and food which would have been right at home in the original, 80s film... or in Caligula. See those here if you missed them.

Yet that original Conan the Barbarian was made in a very different time. The world is a different place and socially irresponsible movies like that just don’t get made anymore. Heck, Hollywood barely makes rated-R movies at all anymore. Combine the signs of the times with what you see in that trailer, and maybe you’ve already assumed this movie is going to be PG-13. Well here’s some good news. The guy who wrote it says no way.

Posting on his blog, Conan remake co-screenwriter Sean Hood posted this statement reassuring fans who may have been a little nervous after that trailer:
As a screenwriter on Conan The Barbarian, I get asked this question a lot. The world of Hyboria, as Robert E. Howard described it, is fleshy and brutal. Bloody beheadings and bare-chested slave girls abound. However, while the movie is unflinching in its depiction of barbarism, slavery and warfare, the violence and nudity emerge from the fabric of the story. It isn't gratuitous.

Robert E. Howard’s stories, although violent and perverse for their time, were not intrusively graphic either. So this is ultimately a movie about the character Conan, a character that will hopefully launch a healthy franchise of movies with stories and characters that celebrate Howard’s work. Yes, you’ll see blood and boobs, but this isn’t a Cinemax movie; it's epic action/fantasy.

And yes, it's rated R.
That sounds pretty good, except for the part about gratuity. It's a barbarian movie, being gratuitous is not gratuitous in this context. Maybe he gets that, but the thing to keep in mind here is just because he wrote the movie that way doesn’t mean they shot it that way. Actually even if they shot it that way (as seems to be indicated by those nudity-filled set photos), that’s no guarantee it’ll end up that way in theaters either.

The MPAA hasn’t rated this movie yet and Hollywood has a thing these days for putting pretty much everything into a PG-13 box, out of the mistaken belief that watering movies down to suit the widest audience possible is the only way to make money. In an environment where even winning an Oscar isn’t enough to let R-rated content stay R-rated, it seems fair to remain pretty suspicious about what’s going on with Conan the Barbarian. What the world needs right now is a decent red band trailer.

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