There are only a handful of directors out there whose name on a movie is more meaningful than the stars attached, and Christopher Nolan is certainly one of those filmmakers. After succeeding on the indie level with Memento and reinventing the superhero genre with his Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan's films have become highly-anticipated events, and his latest, the WWII-era thriller Dunkirk is no exception. Earlier today, the MPAA issued a PG-13 rating for Dunkirk, which has taken some fans by surprise.
ERC Box Office reports that the MPAA handed down the rating today for, "intense war experience and some language." The site even joked that, if the age-old axiom "War is hell" is true, than Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk may only be, "mildly hellish." Then again, there has never been any indication that Christopher Nolan was shooting for an R-rating while production was under way last year, and the first Dunkirk trailer didn't show any actual violence, although it was quite intense. While PG-13 is still the preferred rating for studios to reach the widest possible audience, R-rated movies have most certainly become more popular than ever.
If Dunkirk would have been given an R rating, it would have been director Christopher Nolan's first R-rated movie in 15 years, since Insomnia, starring Al Pacino. In fact, the filmmaker's first three feature-length films, 1998's black-and-white low-budget thriller Following, his 2000 breakthrough hit Memento and Insomnia, were all R-rated, but he has only made PG-13 movies since then. We also reported in September that, due to his string of consistent hits, Christopher Nolan has become the highest-paid director in Hollywood, earning a hefty $20 million up-front fee for directing Dunkirk, while also getting 20 percent of the gross. This is said to be the biggest directorial deal since Peter Jackson signed a similar pact to direct 2005's King Kong.
While Christopher Nolan hasn't spoken about the film's rating yet, it's possible that he may address it when it comes time to promote the film, depending on how fans react to this news. Director Mel Gibson had modest financial success last year with his R-rated WWII thriller Hacksaw Ridge, which earned $67.2 million domestically and $175.3 million worldwide. Many fans compared the first Dunkirk footage to another R-rated WWII classic, Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, which earned $216.5 million domestically and $481.8 million in 1998, from a $70 million budget. Then, of course, there are other recent R-rated box office hits like Deadpool and Logan, which have forced studios to re-examine their stance on R-rated fare.
Ironically, a different Paramount movie was given an R rating today, the studio's theatrical reboot of Baywatch, which was rated R for "language throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity". Last month, Christopher Nolan explained the intricate plot structure of Dunkirk, which is told from different perspectives on air, land and sea. Tom Hardy's character is believed to be one of the main characters in the air portion of the story, while young Harry Styles' character will be on the beach and Cillian Murphy and Mark Rylance's characters will be the naval characters. Take a look at the tweets from ERC Box Office, which reveals the MPAA ratings for both Dunkirk and Baywatch.