The Real Reason Baywatch Went Hard R Instead Of PG-13, According To The Rock

Dwayne Johnson Baywatch Sunglasses

There's a very clear reason why we see so many PG-13 blockbusters hit theaters during the summer: kids are out of school, and it's a perfect time to try and heard them into the local multiplex. This, however, is an approach that the new movie Baywatch tosses to the wind, as star Dwayne Johnson was able to convince the Paramount Pictures to make the film as an R-rated comedy. Why? Both because he felt it would result in a better version of the movie, and because it fits better with his own personal tastes.

I caught up with Dwayne Johnson during the Baywatch press day in Miami, Florida earlier today, and after discussing his collaboration with co-star Zac Efron, I turned the conversation to the R-rating. Given that Johnson has made movies for all demographics, I asked about his personal sensibilities and whether or not the new film was ever looking at a PG-13 rating. The wrestler-cum-actor acknowledged that the project was courting younger audiences when he was first considering the feature- but he convinced them of a different way to go. Said Johnson,

There was [talk about making Baywatch PG-13]. Earlier on, when Paramount first came to me to make the movie -- this was about four-and-a-half, five years ago -- we had that discussion about PG-13 or Rated R. Now, it's a ballsy move if you go Rated-R, especially in the summer when you want as many ticket-buyers as possible, but we also felt the cooler version is Rated-R.

That wasn't the only change that Dwayne Johnson was able to inspire, however. In coming to Baywatch, the star really wanted to change expectations about what the film would be, and as he put it, "take models that worked in the past and then flip them." He explained,

Let's go hard Rated-R; let's take the character that was our villain, it was written for a man, let's write it for a woman, and let's bring in Priyanka [Chopra]. And also the idea that I could make a movie and that it would be Rated-R and that we could lean into it, it's my sense of humor! Very dirty, raunchy humor. So to be able to do this, is great. From being able to go from Moana! Fantastic.

It's worth pointing out that the idea of making an R-rated version of a classic TV show is something that we have seen before -- but given the success of, for example, the 21 Jump Street movies, it certainly made sense as a natural path for Baywatch to follow. And it certainly won't be the last comedy to pivot in that direction.

You can watch Dwayne Johnson talk about steering Baywatch into an R-rated direction watching the video below.

Baywatch, which co-stars Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rorbach, Jon Bass, and Ilfenesh Hadera, arrives in theaters this Friday.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.