Power Rangers' PG-13 rating could well have kept potential audience away from the box office, according to director Dean Israelite. When the Power Rangers movie debuted earlier this year, it was seen as a big reboot of the franchise from Lionsgate and Saban. Though the show still runs, and is still popular, it's fair to say it had fallen past the peak popularity it enjoyed in the '90s. The time seemed right for a reboot, too, given that most of us who watched as kids, are now adults with kids or young relations of our own.
Israelite assembled a cast of relative unknowns for the five Rangers, gave them all different, but equally relevant backstories, added in a campy villain in the form of Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, Brian Cranston as Zordon, and Power Rangers was born. However, Power Rangers failed to set the box office alight, despite decent enough reviews and praise for its young cast. With a rating of PG-13, it seemed as though many assumed the movie would not be suitable for children, and so stayed away. Speaking to Screen Rant, when Israelite was asked if he thought the rating had affected Power Rangers' box office success, he was emphatic in his response:
"Yes, definitely. Definitely. And not only do I think it, but there’s been market studies on it, and the findings have been that if the movie were rated PG- I don’t want to go into the specific numbers- but if the movie had been rated PG, there would have been more traffic. I think parents were unsure if they could bring their kids to the movie, which surprised me, because the movie is a tame PG-13.
We did a lot of preview screenings, and to me, it felt like a seven-year-old might be scared, but in a good way. They liked that they were scared of Rita, but they still came out of the movie enjoying it, they liked what was going on. I think we really tread that line well, so it was disappointing that parents didn’t know that they could take their kids to it. I’m hoping now, with it coming out on DVD and Blu-ray, and On Demand, that parents will feel more comfortable. That maybe they’ll check it out for themselves and then see that it’s suitable."
Of the parents who did take their kids, the reactions seemed to be broadly positive; Israelite is correct when he says that kids like to be scared. We can all remember watching movies such as Goonies, or Gremlins and feeling that intense thrill as you wonder what's going to happen next. Sadly, that chance wasn't afforded to Power Rangers, which means younger audience members missed the chance to see Elizabeth Banks camping it up as Rita Replusa, and the moment when the Megazord emerges.
As it sits right now, a Power Rangers sequel is far from confirmed, and it might not happen at all. Interestingly, though, it might be toy sales that cements a sequel; it is the number one action figure brand, and has enjoyed a massive surge in sales this past year, with figures up 122%. Granted, that's not all down to toys from the movie; Power Rangers: Ninja Steel has been hugely popular on Nickelodeon this year, with a second season due in 2018. Even so, it does prove to Lionsgate and Saban that the younger market is there, and maybe any future Power Rangers movies will make sure to stay well in the PG rating category.
Power Rangers is out on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD from June 27th.
- Power Rangers (2017) release date: Mar 24, 2017