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June 27 2005

"Serenity" Gets PG-13. As noted by someone on the official 'Versal board's chat room, the official Serenity website now lists the movie as having been rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Discussion question: Is this further argument for bumping up the release into August, before kids go back to school and their time is otherwise occupied?

Well personally I thought it was PG-13 when I first saw it, so I'm not surprised at the rating. I don't know if the rating will alter the release date, but of course I think that earlier is better!
They've been aiming for PG-13 all along.
I'm not surprised either embers. I know there was quite a bit of discussion on the OB, and many thought it was an R, but I just never figured it would be. The LoTR movies were PG-13 and many of the reasons some thought this would be an R were evident there as well.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:49 ]
I'm not surprised at this rating either. Honestly, I think "War Stories" had more disturbing images than anything we saw in the movie.
Having seen Serenity, PG-13 makes sense to me, too. Yet it's kind of interesting - maybe only to me - that I can remember nary a serious swear word in Serenity. How many PG-13 movies can say that? (Aside from Lord of the Rings.)

Before I saw Serenity, I'd been idly wondering what it'd be like to hear our crew let loose with swearing (in English) on the big screen after so long knowing them in their censored English language TV forms. Guess Joss didn't want or think about going down that road. Maybe the few Mandarin phrases in Serenity contain some choice bits? Does anyone know if any enterprising fflan who knows Mandarin got into a screening and translated what he/she remembers?

I'd say it would make sense to bump up the film's release to nab kids who are old enough to go to PG-13 but young enough to be required to be back in school and heavily occupied come September. But then again, what do I know?

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-06-28 05:52 ]
Yet it's kind of interesting - maybe only to me - that I can remember nary a serious swear word in Serenity.

phlebotnin, .
Otherwise, I figure (hope!) that much of the Mandarin uttered in "Serenity" is cursin', 'cos I thoroughly enjoy that from the crew, especially the Captain.

On the other subject, it seems now that nary a day goes by without some further hopefulness that the releaese date is moved up and that the slightest bit of Serenity news is seen as further proof that that will happen. I, for one, hope that it is not moved up; I'd rather see each piece of the marketing plan (comics, Sci-Fi rebroadcast, more trailers, tv spots, huge billboards and magazine adverts, cast guest appearances and the like) unfold and come together over the next 90+ days. I have no fear that Serenity will not succeed. I don't mean to be harsh but I do tire of hearing this brought up so often...hmmm...but on the other hand, I completely understand how anxious we fans are to get it out there and see it (see it again, for some of us).

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:50 ]

I'm so worried about being spoiled...should this have a spoiler warning at least for the discussion section? (I'm sure I'm probably the only person who hasn't seen it yet!)
I'm not so sure the release date moving up would be a good thing. August is up there with January as far as studio dumping grounds go. It wouldn't exactly indicate too much confidence in the product, as nice as it would be for those of not fortunate enough to hit previews to see it earlier.

I'll take September 30. Then, any mixed reviews that ooze out can cast it as 'decent fare if you need a break from Oscar season' instead of 'typical end-of-summer leftovers.'
The decision to go for a PG-13 rating is probably essential, commercially, now that ratings are more strictly enforced. (Personally, I've been seen R-rated movies since I was about 11, back in the day, at least in Los Angeles, all that you needed was to be WITH someone who LOOKED as if they MIGHT be 17, and you'd bet in.)

Still, I sort of wish "Serenity" could have been an "R." I'm not a gore-fan (actually I'm a bit of a gore-phobe) but a touch more realistic violence a la, say, "Aliens" or "Rob Roy," might have made have been more appropriate, given what we're dealing with here. "Serenity" could probably be shown uncut in primetime.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:51 ]
What about when Mal said to Inara, "You fuck things up." Or did I hear it wrong?
My thinking about the release date, personally, has never been motivated by the sorts of impatience people keep suggesting here, but by what I asked in the post to begin with: If there's a chance to capture people before they have to go focus on school, wouldn't that be a good idea?

You heard it wrong.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:51 ]

"Shit" is a nothing swear-word; you can say it in PG movies. The MPAA distinction between PG-13 and R is commonly suspected to be more than one use of the f-word, so I think Serenity falls safely into the PG-13 range in terms of language, regardless of whether TheZeppo heard it right.
I think I'm remembering that correctly.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:52 ]

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:53 ]
My kids attend year-round school and it starts July 25. Maybe that's not too common though?
So that's a 12 or a 12A in the UK, I think. Not really surprised by the rating it got.
I think the movie is "too deep" for any kid not in their teens anyway,
regardless of the rules to get a PG-13 vs. R rating.

But PG-13 means the parents can just buy them the tickets and walk off right? I see parents doing that all the time, they can't be bothered to go in with their kids - but maybe it will end up making some parents sit in the theater too and become new fans?

ps. Did you know that movie ratings are yet another Hollywood cartel like the MPAA and RIAA? Just try making your own little (legal) video clip and jokingly put a "rated G" or something on it and you will get a letter from them threatening you. Lovely.
What about the comics? Wouldn't moving the release date of the movie up, screw up the release date of the comics? Just a thought.
Well here's what Chris Buchanan had to say recently:

As for Sept. 30th, the date is holding as far as I know. (It is Uni's movie though, and they could change it without my input! IMHO, I don't see it moving.)

Via the Prospero Firefly forum
What's strange is that the San Francisco screening ticket for the 23rd screening was rated R. I pointed that out to my friend, because I knew they were shooting for a PG-13 and while the movie is pretty intense for a PG-13, nothing really rates an R.

dottikin is exactly right: "Serenity" is tremendously intense, but there's nothing to warrant an R rating. The sexual references are less overt than what one can find on network sitcoms, and the violence is, well, pretty damn violent, and hence the PG-13.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:54 ]
I suppose this is a good place to mention that as a bit of summer fun, I was thinking that we could discuss each Firefly episode as it airs on Friday night on SciFi in the US. It should take us up to the release of the movie quite nicely.

I was thinking something along the lines of what posters thought of the episode itself and how it relates to the context of the series as a whole.
As for what separates PG-13 from R, all I know is that I recently saw a PG-13 video (Kindergarten Cop; so sue me, I was on a bus, it was inescapable) and there were quite a few f*@!&s and worse. The only reason I noticed was because someone on the bus minded. A lot.

I think Simon's idea of discussing each Firefly episode after it airs on Sci Fi is a splendid idea.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:54 ]
I've seen it twice,

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:55 ]
Could we put a spoiler warning on this thread? I'd really rather have not known any of the dialogue that is said in the movie, whether it is mandarin or not.
PG-13, I'd figured from what I've read. So it's going to be a 12 year old movie over here in Brazil.
I know it doesn't matter that much market wise, especially because is opening so far from the american opening date, but I'm starting to get worried about the brazilian opening date. Just found out which other movies are opening at the same weekend: There's Disney's Chicken Little and there's also Burton's Corpse Bride, which are both gonna take several theathers. Especially Disney's movie is going to try gaining as much as possible, before the Harry Potter big opening, two weeks later.

I like Simon's idea. I'll try even to rewatch the episodes to keep up, and re-read some of my early impressions from two years ago.

[ edited by Simon on 2005-06-28 15:55 ]
All minor spoilers have now been put in invisible text. Apologies for not doing it early. So if people are going to quote and talk about minorly spoilerish dialogue from the movie in the context of the subject of this thread, please use the invisible text tags.
I don't think those words were said, the ones quoted above. I heard those soft versions.

The summer thing, except for August maybe, is kind of overblown. As a US-er, I've never seen more or less movies in summer anyway, kid or adult. I hadn't thought of it but I kind of like gorammit's plan about watching the marketing strategy unfold. We can dissect it all to hell over here.

I can't believe anyone would expect an R rating. Because they say the Reavers rape people to death? That's real horror -- without nasty gore. It's what you don't see that's scary and precisely why Reavers are scary. PG-13 is just right.

PS I like your idea Simon. Please do that.

[ edited by April on 2005-06-28 16:24 ]
Yeah, I also agree with Simon's idea. I think it would be nice periodically for us to do the same thing with Buffy and Angel, like work through the series and discuss one episode a week.
Huh. Good for them. I'm a bit surprised, but I suppose I shouldn't be, considering the other movies that are getting PG13 ratings these days.

In re: the particular context (mal/inara) discussed above --

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2005-06-28 17:34 ]
No action movie can survive with a R rating unless its got a all-star cast(sin city, kill bill). The studios want the teens to come in the movies so they force a PG-13(even if its bad for the movie's material, ala Daredevil).
Some episodes of Angel and Buffy got rated 15 when they got released on DVD here in the UK. Be interesting to see if a director's cut/ultimate edition of Serenity gets a higher rating on DVD than its cinematic release.
A PG-13 film can say "fuck" once, though cannot use it as a verb relating to having sex. "Shit" is passable, though only a handful of times. Joss and Uni undoubtedly made a PG-13 film, and intent to do so was likely in his contract. The rating is actually out fairly early, which means it was scripted to get the rating it got, as most action and sci-fi films are these days, The Matrix excluded.
Re: language. I think Joss was smart in essentially using the same game plan of the series, leaving the serious cursing for Chinese (wonder what they'll rate it in China?), thus basically having his dramatic cake and eating it too.

BTW -- the U.S. rating system is seriously, well, f'ed up. "Billy Elliot" famously got an R rating for multiple "f's"...same as "Hannibal" for multiple acts of murder and worse. Yup, we sure have our priorities straight.

BTW -- One famous exception to the single "F" rule is, of all things, "All the Presidents Men" where the term "ratf---ing" is used multiple times. Initially, it was rated R, but Redford, et al, appealed to the board on the grounds that young people should be able to see it for its historic value.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-06-28 18:57 ]
Our lovely US rating system comes from a mindset that regularly puts mutilated and dismembered people on network television (hello? CSI et al) that any kid can see but you can't say the f word more than once in a movie and not get a R rating. piffle on that.
Keith DeCandido, author of the novelization, says the following over at the Browncoats forum:

FWIW, the script that I novelized had two instances of four-letter words in them, neither of which were in the cut I saw in May. (In one case, it meant losing a line I was really looking forward to hearing spoken. Ah, well....)

It's possible (and I'm only speculating here) that those two cuts were made to avoid the R rating.

The creative use of Fireflyish words is better for me anyway. Language especially today totally evolves over time. Suddenly "frickin" is a new one, so who's to say 'gorammit' couldn't actually happen? At least in the Whedonverse. He's the god of creative language.

Related: I enjoyed the Wil Wheaton link today, even though the Firefly reference was not a big part of it. Good reading, and nicely related. I remember specifically after Stand By Me's release, PG-13 came en vogue, because it was totally a story kids and teens should see, and one F-bomb if I'm not mistaken. In that regard, you might consider Stand By Me a forerunner for the PG-13 rating, which rightfully has it's own category. And I'm not a fan of ratings 'cept in the case of lil'uns.
ETA: It may be a "duh" factor but some might not remember that was an "R" movie.

[ edited by April on 2005-06-28 21:19 ]
April, PG-13 was created more for PG films to get bumped up to, not for R's to be bumped down from (though that was a consequence, too). The main films considered to have brought about the "need" for a PG-13 rating were Gremlins and Temple of Doom, both of which were proclaimed to be "too intense" for the PG they carried by some parents' groups.

ETA: Plus, PG-13 had been around for 2 years before Stand By Me came out.

[ edited by MattM on 2005-06-28 21:37 ]
Simon, the discussion of the 'Firefly' episodes as they air on SCI FI is an excellent idea. Really looking forward to it.
I'd like to ditto Madhatter. Having never seen Firefly on broadcast TV, I think it would be fun to have a discussion about the episodes, even if we know where the series goes. I really miss talking about Whedon episodes on a regular basis. Talking about other TV shows over in Flickr is fun, but it doesn't come close to talking about Joss's shows.
MattM, Stand By Me getting an R was a huge deal. Yes, that new PG-13 rating was of course for many movies that shouldn't have been PG, but in SBM's case it was the opposite because even some church leaders and youth leaders were pissed about the R. PG-13 was still newish at that time, and the controversy over Gremlins was the reason I couldn't see it in the theaters. :) I've not seen a film with Stand By Me-type content since get an R rating. I said up there it became more common after that and more popular, not that it started the whole thing. My whole point: Stand By Me was a good example of a newish policy not enforced appropriately.
Thanks for putting things in the invisible text Simon. I started to read posts in this thread earlier and realized people were starting to discuss the movie and quickly exited out.

I love the idea of being able to discuss the Firefly episodes as they air on Sci-fi!!!
April -- "Billy Elliot" was basically a "Stand by Me" type movies with lots of British-style F-words (and a scene involving the word "fanny", which in the UK refers to a more NC-17 body part than in does in it's PG-13 U.S. version) and was not a huge deal exactly, but was singled out as just plain wrong by Roger Ebert.
Thirding or whatever to the Firefly ep discussions, mostly because a lot of people weren't around to discuss them during the original broadcasts... I wonder how many people have been converted by the DVDs, and how many are left over from the original broadcast.

And movie ratings essentially frustrate the hell out of me. As a teenager, I could watch whatever the heck I wanted on video (distinctly remember renting The Crying Game from the library) so ratings never concerned me then -- plus, I didn't have a great deal of discretionary income then, so movies in the theaters weren't my thing then. But as a current adult, when I think about how much my viewing choices have been hampered by arbitrary "artistic" decisions about nudity, sex and foul language, it seriously irritates. It's better than the old Hollywood code (which was scary serious) but I'd pretty much pass out in joy if Joss were ever to do an HBO series.
bobster said:
(wonder what they'll rate it in China?)

Will this film even get released in China without heavy edits? It's more or less a story about Will that fly?
Well, I think Universal will find a lot of trouble to release it in mainland china.

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