Quite the buzz has grown recently around director Adam Green‘s slasher flick sequel, Hatchet II, and now an undying (fittingly) discussion is becoming all the more heated.
If you’re at all familiar movie ratings systems, you’re likely aware that the MPAA heads it all up and has been the source of much controversy over the years. Multitudes of films have struggled to get their movie down from an R rating to a PG-13, while many others have been forced to cut and trim crucial content just to find a way to reach an R rating down from the feared NC-17.
See, the problem with the system is that if this stuffy group of people who run the MPAA decide to pin your movie with an NC-17 rating, it’s not able to go into wide release because most theaters won’t touch them. This leaves you only the choice of releasing an NC-17 or unrated product in a limited amount of theaters, and that’s why you hear so much about movies having to cut down and earn that R. In a perfect world, any movie short of X-rated could be shown in most theaters, and those who are responsible for preventing minors from seeing them would do their jobs and ensure it. As it is, people can’t handle that overwhelming responsibility, and this is the way of the movie-going world.
Hatchet II found itself in this very situation; filled will violence and bloody gore, the MPAA passed down the undesirable NC-17. Instead of cutting content he felt was too important to his film, Green decided to release the movie unrated, and even gained the support of a major theater chain. AMC theaters, who expressed love for the Hatchet movies, decided to help by putting this unrated title in 68 theaters around the U.S. and Canada. AMC’s decision was a huge step toward the ultimate goal of dismantling the MPAA all together. Everyone knows they run the show, and that they’ve done nothing but damage filmmakers’ ability to express themselves freely through their art.
If you’ve not seen it, all you need to do is rent the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated for an up close and personal look at the MPAA and the harm they cause to our movies.
Then it all took a strange and unexpected turn for the worst. Only a couple of days after releasing the movie, AMC pulled it from all theaters. Green, speaking to Entertainment Weekly, said he “woke up and it was just gone,” leading people to wonder just what happened here. Some think it was the MPAA using their bully status to maintain their control over the world of movies. Others think the reason is a little more straightforward, and that Hatchet II‘s lackluster performance is the reason it was yanked. The movie only made an estimated $52,000 on 68 screens, which averages out to about $800 per theater, and only around 10 people per show. These are not good numbers, and this is the reason AMC is giving for their move. The company made a statement saying that “At AMC theaters, we review all films in all of our theaters every week and then make our business decisions based on their performance.”
As Green said, this probably ends any chance of the sequel doing well in theaters, but it will still have its run on DVD, Blu-ray, and on demand services, which is where the first movie thrived. Hatchet II has received nothing but praise from critics who have seen it, but it seems home viewing will once again be the best bet.
The real controversy here, however, is why Hatchet II couldn’t get an R-rating to start. Green says “To me, the whole thing is unfortunate because this is not a movie that deserves to be unrated. It’s a very funny, silly slasher movie about a swamp ghost that’s killing people in ridiculous ways. And now it’s become, you know, ‘Banned from cinemas.’ I’ve lost 11 pounds in the last week from stress.”
Though I can’t wait to get my hands on it and watch, I’ve not personally seen the movie and can’t say how nasty it gets. But I have seen the original, and I’ve seen these ultra-messy slasher flicks before, and the director is absolutely right. These movies are scary and incredibly violent, but there’s also a fun cheesiness to them that makes it all a lot less controversial. I watched a movie recently, Bruno, which I was shocked was able to get an R-rating, and there’s no way Hatchet II gets away with more. And when it comes to horror, as our own Empress Eve told me, there’s MUCH more realistically violent titles like Hostel getting their R as well, so what exactly is going on?
As always, the disaster that is movie ratings systems and rules is causing nothing but chaos and problems once again. One of these days a group of filmmakers and actors are going to rise up and figure out an alternate way to handle movie ratings, but for now, this is what we’re stuck with.
Below you can see the red band trailer released just for this monumental theatrical release, which makes the result even more disheartening. It is NSFW, and also a hell of a lot of fun…so beware and enjoy!
What do you think of the Hatchet II controversy? Speak your brain in the comments!