Word is Sony's Venom could be rated PG-13, and that may actually be beneficial for the film. In recent years, 20th Century Fox has shown there is a strong market for R-rated comic book fare, as evidenced by the critical and commercial success of the Deadpool franchise and Logan. Standing out from the crowd of what the genre typically sees, they provided breaths of fresh air by gearing narratives towards older moviegoers. It's important other studios learn the right lessons from these films, but there's no denying the R rating isn't a death blow for a movie's box office prospects.
As such, it was long speculated the upcoming Venom movie would look to capitalize on the trend and also go for the R rating. It's the first step towards Sony creating their own franchise based on the 900 Marvel characters they have the rights to, and it's not part of the groundbreaking deal that allowed Spider-Man to become part of the MCU. But despite having that freedom, the latest reports indicate the higher-ups at Sony are pushing for a PG-13 rating, which could come as a disappointment to some fans. However, this might not be the worst turn of events for Venom.
The primary motivation for Sony pursuing a PG-13 is potential crossover with the MCU. It has already been confirmed Venom will serve as its own entity, but the filmmakers haven't been shy about discussing the possibility of Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock encountering Tom Holland's Peter Parker. Venom, of course, is one of Spider-Man's most well-known adversaries, and it would be a shame if the two never battled on the big screen. Sony likely wants to see how well Venom is received before seriously considering this, but making the film PG-13 means it could fit in more naturally to the MCU. Instead of having to water down an R-rated property, Marvel could integrate something that already has wider appeal.
Sony obviously has a lot riding on Venom, so opening up its audience to teens reads as a smart play. In fact, it would help Venom differentiate from most of the films that will be playing in October. Traditionally, that is when the awards contenders start opening in theaters, and for all the buzz surrounding works like A Star is Born and First Man (among others), their target demographic is not the same as a comic book movie. Venom is in a unique position where it's really the only big studio tentpole releasing that month, now that Netflix secured the rights to Andy Serkis' Mowgli. Rather than competing against other adult-orientated projects, Venom can (hopefully) monopolize its market and fill the void of four-quadrant blockbusters. It'll be the first comic book movie to hit theaters since July's Ant-Man and the Wasp, so there should be some demand to see it on the big screen.
Most importantly, the rating probably isn't going to be what makes or breaks Venom from a quality perspective. There has been superhero films in the past to push the limits of PG-13 (The Dark Knight comes to mind as an example) and have turned out just fine. Yes, it could be interesting to see the most violent version of Venom eating his victims, but extra blood or some swear words won't mean anything if the story isn't well-executed and structurally sound. As long as the script is in good shape and tells a compelling narrative audiences can get invested in, they'll likely be on board with whatever Sony has planned. Hopefully, regardless of what it's rated, Venom delivers a satisfying experience.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018