Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) may not be R-rated after all. Margot Robbie pitched the film that way and director Cathy Yan said it would be rated R back in October 2018, but Warner Bros. is not so sure.
The studio told Joblo’s Paul Shirey via email that there is no confirmed rating for the film as of yet.
Obviously, no rating is truly confirmed until the MPAA assigns one. There is, however, a difference between a film being produced as R-rated from the start, as Robbie and Yan have indicated, and a studio figuring out the rating during the edit, as will be the case for Birds of Prey. Remember that Deadpool was rated R from the beginning.
That Robbie and Yan have spoken publicly about BoP being rated R only for Warner Bros. to deny any confirmed rating suggests something has changed. Warner Bros. may have been on board with the idea initially, but after Aquaman made over $290M in China, it would be difficult to automatically deny Birds of Prey an opportunity to play in that market with an R-rating.
Most superhero-based films have PG-13 ratings, as did Suicide Squad, where Robbie’s Harley Quinn made her cinematic debut. That film still wasn’t released in China, but a PG-13 rating at least gives BoP hope of playing in that market.
Warner Bros. is doing exactly what the studio should do right now. It’s best to keep an open mind during production and see what the film needs to be during the edit. Yan’s vision should be upheld, but that vision may not ultimately require an R-rating.
It’s not atypical for studios and filmmakers to have multiple conversations with the MPAA regarding what can stay and what has to go in order to receive a PG-13 rating. If the MPAA’s objections are limited to things Yan does not feel are essential to the story she wants to tell, then there’s no sense in making Birds of Prey R-rated just to be perceived as “darker” or more “mature.”
SOURCE: Paul Shirey