Update: The Expendables being toned down?
Now this is a rumour that's worth talking about, and one that I do hope turns out to be rubbish, but the reason that the studio released a trailer for The Expendables that doesn't focus on anything but the characters and the actors names?
Well it might be because they are currently toying with the idea of releasing the film as a PG-13 and not the R-rated version that Stallone has been talking about. That, my friends, would be a bad, bad move.
Sylvester Stallone has already been talking about how tough they've made The Expendables, he's been talking about that R-rating as though it's a certificate of approval for the audience, and he's right, for films like this it is. However through all those times we've heard him and other press stories talking about it, for the studio to pull that and put out a PG-13 would be disastrous.
Okay, that's not true. Let me take myself out of this personally for a second and look at it objectively. What they would be doing is maximising audience potential in the cinemas and elsewhere. The studio aren't stupid, they've seen the hype that this line-up is creating and perhaps it's way more than they expected, and now they're keen to exploit that and get the maximum audience possible. It's something any business would do.
However, businesses have to look at the longer term too. They have to think about brand awareness and trust, you can't promise a tough product, get the marketplace excited, and then pull it, that breeds a negative picture for your organisation, at a time when you want a positive one. For a negative view will damage customer loyalty, brand association, and a company wants to keep that going above all. Think long term, not just one product launch.
Anyway, I can see why they'd want to maximise sales, but why not try something different. Release the film as an R-rating, then on DVD and online release the film in two versions, one R-rated and one PG-13. Better still, if you really want to do it, treat it like a 3D release and issue two prints.
However you cannot pull away the promised R-rating on a film that's already been made and I presume is almost done editing and re-edit and resell it as something it was never intended to be.
The story comes from Hollywood Elsewhere who have a "source", note that their sources do tend to be a bit more reliable than many other sites "sources", who is saying that both Stallone and the studio are fighting with the idea of a different version. The thing that makes me laugh with this quote is what the source says next, and it just shows how detached they are from reality and from the audience:
"...I hope they go with the R-rated version, but apparently there's pressure in the marketplace not to."
Apparently? I take it this source isn't in the marketing department of the studio, or if they are then they haven't been looking at anything external.
PG-13 or R-rated? I don't see they have a choice do you?
Update: The story from Hollywood Elsewhere is that there is no debate over the rating, both the studio and Stallone are committed to providing an R-rated version. Good.
However they also point out that a previous UGO interview with Avi Lerner from the studio stated quite clearly that:
"there will be both PG-13 and R-rated cuts for The Expendables and they will test each to decide which to release."
So maybe that teaser was part of the test? Maybe it was just a cool teaser to concentrate on the characters, or maybe it was meant to get us all excited. It's worked on all levels.