Warning: Spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are in play. If you haven't caught up on the most recent dino-mania, bookmark this story and come back once you're current.
The dinosaurs of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have been unleashed on our theater screens, and nothing will ever be the same. Already being estimated to have taken in a $524.6 million as early as this past Friday, this new adventure connected to that experimental theme park on Isla Nublar looks to have done its job well enough to attract a healthy audience. But could it have been an even bigger success? In particular, the question has to be asked about whether or not this follow-up to Jurassic World could have made a bigger splash, both at the box office and with fans, if it didn't actively try to avoid an R-rating.
Now going into this question, there are two different canons to keep in mind: the Michael Crichton novels, and the film series started by Steven Spielberg's two films based on those very same novels. If you were looking to make a movie that's closer to the Crichton canon, an R-rated option would indeed be the best option to go with. The author's novels were more focused on telling a story of the folly of humanity, once they've taken the reins of supreme genetic control and misused them for their own gains. With profanity, character descriptions that read like a mash-up of noir novels and your science textbooks, and some bloody ends to characters that crossed paths with the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, a more mature incarnation is something that could definitely work.
However, we're already five films deep in a two trilogy series, and that sequence is based on the blueprint laid down by Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and The Lost World. While those films do explore the themes of morality surrounding the issue of genetic manipulation and de-extinction, they do in a PG-13 fashion that throws in a lot more warmth than the Michael Crichton novels are known for. Jurassic Park, in particular, showed that the universe of the R-rated, science-heavy source material could successfully transfer into a broader appealing, more blockbuster-friendly context. So while an R-rated version could work from the ground up, there's the issue of the public being used to a specific flavor of Jurassic madness they can bring almost anyone of any age to, without restriction.
So could Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom have been a better film if it crossed over into R-rated territory? Honestly, it totally could have. With the darker tone and the foundation of a PG-13 series feeling like it needs a bit of a change, this could have been the best opportunity to make the switch from a tamer franchise into something more visceral. Not to mention, the story and execution of Fallen Kingdom does feel like it's harkening back to the original Crichton material. With a darker, more confident tone, the twist involving Maisie's existence as a clone might have been more fulfilling in an R-rated film. Last, and not least, there are so many scenes of dinosaur induced mayhem, like Mills being torn in half, or Wheatley's death at the jaws of the Indoraptor, which definitely would have benefited from a more bloody portrayal. But that's not what the Jurassic Park / World franchise is all about.
The Jurassic World franchise is a PG-13 blockbuster franchise that's been friendly to families looking for thrills on the border of an R-rating, while not entirely crossing over into that category. While the series would lose some of its marketability becoming a more mature form of its previous self, it would also lose the heart that's been beating within its franchise chest since the 1993 classic introduced us to a world where dinosaurs roamed the earth. If anyone really wants to see Jurassic World in a more adult context, there's one way that this wish could come true -- and that's an R-rated reboot. With the rights to the Jurassic series up for grabs after a sixth film's production, it's a possibility that could be brought into the light at a later time. For now though, the series is almost over, and keeping Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom closer to its roots allows it to be the best movie it can, without drawing undue attention for trying to roughen itself up with an R-rated version.