While 2005's Constantine starring Keanu Reeves is regarded as a cult classic today, it was not a huge success upon release. The director of the movie, Francis Lawrence recently attended the Constantine: 15th Anniversary Reunion panel during San Diego [email protected], during which he revealed how the movie's chances at the box-office were hurt by an unnecessary R-rating.
"Originally when we all started on this we thought it was going to be a rated R film. Warner then dictated that it had to be PG-13 because of what it cost. We got the list of guidelines of what you can do and you can't do in a PG-13 movie and we followed those rules to a tee. I mean, the amount of times you can say f**k, the kinds of nudity, the blood, the violence, all of those things. And we screened it for the MPAA and I remember hearing that they got about five minutes in and put their notepads down and said that we got a hard R for tone. This is not something that's on the list."
Considering the movie was the story of a hard-boiled detective who takes on the forces of Hell itself, Constantine was never going to have a 'tone' that was light and cheery. Although he had worked hard to make sure there was nothing in the film that qualified for an 'R' rating, Lawrence explained how he was unprepared for the fact that the very nature of the story and visuals made the censors uncomfortable.
"I think it was an overwhelming sense of dread was what I heard that they had from the opening scene onward. They didn't think there was anything that we could do about it. Basically what we had was a PG-13 movie that got an R-rating, which just killed me because if we were gonna get an R-rating I would have made an R-rated movie. We could have really gone for it in terms of intensity and violence and language and all those kinds of things. We got a bit screwed on that front. We did try to fight but we obviously didn't win that battle."
The end result was a movie that Lawrence believes is too safe to earn a genuine R-rating. It is a problem that the filmmaker wants to correct with a Constantine sequel, unfortunately, as Lawrence has revealed in the past, I.P rights are preventing the movie from getting made.
"We wanted to make a responsible, more R-rated movie. By responsible, I mean we'd make a movie that wouldn't cost quite as much as the original, which we thought was going to be PG-13. We worked on the sequel for a while. We have been talking about it recently. It's always stuck with all of us because we all love the movie, and especially realizing there's a real cult following for this movie, it'd be fun to make. Keanu, , and I have actually talked about it."
"Unfortunately, I don't even remember who has it, but with all these shared universes that exist now, with Constantine being a part of Vertigo, which is a part of DC, people have plans for these shared universes. You know, possibly different Constantines and things like that. Right now, we don't have that character available to us for TV or movies, which is a bummer. We all investigated it, but I think it's kind of crazy when you have Keanu, who would love to do another Constantine, and us wanting to do another Constantine, and people are like, 'Uh, no, we got other plans.' We'll see what happens."