The overwhelming majority of Hollywood’s biggest franchises are staunchly PG-13, with one or two R-rated exceptions. The reasons why are incredibly simple and blatantly obvious; excluding a huge portion of the target audience and demographic leads to a drastic downturn in box office takings, and it’s all about the bottom line at the end of the day.
The two highest-grossing multi-film properties in history that have never shied away from an R-rating are The Conjuring Universe and The Matrix, neither of which even manages to rank among the 25 most lucrative brands of all-time. Movies like the Deadpool duology, Logan, Joker, James Cameron’s first two Terminators, The Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and others have all experienced mixed critical and commercial fortunes, but those have been offset by earnings from their respective franchise’s PG-13 endeavors.
We’re now hearing from our sources – the same ones who told us Ben Affleck was returning as Batman in The Flash long before it was confirmed – that the DCEU could reportedly be making a shift towards favoring R-rated content. Looking at how Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad bombed hard, you’d have to wonder why such a drastic shift is being considered, when it’s done nothing but lose the company money so far.
Of course, it could be as simple as the majority of HBO Max projects leaning into the freedoms that come with airing on a streaming service, and it would help differentiate the DCEU‘s small screen offerings from the theatrical releases. Having gone zero-for-two in cinemas with R-rated titles, it would be a bold, risky and perhaps even dangerous move to shift the focus too far away from PG-13.