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Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables franchise saw a deep dip from its initial movie to its sequel. In fact, 2012’s The Expendables 2 couldn’t even cross the $90 million mark at the domestic box office (though it did bank $305M internationally). So with a third movie reaching theaters in August, Stallone and director Patrick Hughes are implementing huge changes to try and expand the fan base – though this next one, you might not appreciate.
According to a Tweet posted by Exhibitor Relations, The Expendables 3 will head into theaters with a PG-13 rating for "violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language." And as the site adds: "Weak sauce."
To be fair, Sylvester Stallone has been laying the groundwork for this disappointing news for weeks. In a recent interview, Stallone was quoted as saying that the final cut on The Expendables 3 would be "very close to an R, believe me, it’s right there," but they ultimately pulled their punches – literally and figuratively – to appeal to a younger demographic (who have no idea who Stallone is). Said Sly:
We want to reach as many people as possible. … I think we owe it to the next generation. We thought we’d join that club for a while."
By "that club," Stallone likely means "sequels that make more money than their predecessors." Because yeah, that’s always preferred.
As some people on Twitter following ERC have pointed out, reducing an Expendables movie to PG-13 sort of goes against the point of these movies. The Expendables movies exist to see the greatest, most iconic action stars going balls-to-the-wall in escalatingly violent operas of blood and carnage. Right? And that isn’t as possible when it’s PG-13. Granted, we won’t complain too loudly if the finished product ends up being as cool as the latest full trailer makes The Expendables 3 actually look:
But yeah, this bit of news does feel, on the surface, like Sylvester Stallone is watering down his product to reach the masses. And that’s disappointing.