Friday, August 15, 2008

Funniest thing I've heard all day... a PG-13 Punisher movie?

Yet more Punisher drama. Apparently Lionsgate wants to further bowdlerize The Punisher: War Zone. Not content to remove the director, re-edit the film, and replace the score with heavy metal music, they are now aiming for a PG-13. Yes, that's right, a PG-13 Punisher film. Remember that when the last Lionsgate Punisher came out in 2004, it wore its R-rating as a badge of honor ('Hey look, we're a $30 million gritty R-rated action film with 1970s vibes!'). I guess this is what happens now that Lionsgate wants to be a real studio. We'll see if they actually go through with this, but I suppose they are thinking two things.

A) "Hey, if we get a PG-13, we can market it as a quasi-sequel to The Dark Knight!" Comparing The Punisher to Batman is foolhardy. Batman is a beloved worldwide icon as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and/or Jesus. The Punisher is a cult comic character whose appeal is SOLELY based on his reputation as a homicidal psychopath who lays waste to the criminal element. If anything, The Punisher is a more intellectually honest version of Batman, since he is more like what a vigilante would actually be in any modern society. Making a Punisher movie without R-rated action and blood-stained violence is like making an omelet without eggs.

B) "Hey, if we make the theatrical cut PG-13, we can make extra money on the DVD/BluRay release with an R-rated and/or 'unrated cut'. No arguments here, but this is an awfully childish way for Lionsgate to start its run as a major, grown-up movie studio. If the situation changes, I'll gladly update.

Oh, and for the record, breaking ground and hiring a woman to direct this brutal action comic book adventure and then canning said woman and gutting her vision is a sure way to get a tongue-lashing from Nikki Finke. This time though, when Finke cries sexism, I might agree with her.

Scott Mendelson

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