After seeing the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and the failure of their own Hitman: Agent 47, 20th Century Fox are probably kicking themselves for turning down director James Gunn's take on the video game franchise. But at one time, Gunn, who has become one of Marvel's most valuable players, had an idea for a Hitman movie that probably would have been better than the two movies previously released in that series.
Video game movies have had a rough go of it over the years, and despite repeated attempts by Fox, Hitman has certainly fallen victim to the video game adaptation curse. The first Hitman movie arrived in 2007 and starred Timothy Olyphant. While the movie's biggest problem might have been having Olyphant shave off his iconic locks to go bald, it did have the sense to arrive in theaters with an R rating. But that almost wasn't the case. James Gunn pitched an R-Rated version and Fox passed, insisting that the movie should be PG-13. Interestingly enough, the reboot also received an R despite the studio initially thinking that was a bad idea.
Having Fox reject Gunn is probably the best case scenario, because we can only guess if James Gunn's Hitman would have been any good, or a box office hit. And it could have possibly pulled him away from directing Guardians of the Galaxy, even though Hitman 2 hit theaters a little over a year later. As it stands right now, the first Hitman has a 14% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes and the second movie fared even worse with 8%.
With both Hitman movies failing so monumentally bad, it's not likely that will see a third movie any time soon, even though similar R rated movies like Deadpool and John Wick have become box office hits. James Gunn probably has his pitch for a Hitman movie still locked away in a drawer somewhere. Perhaps if he turns down directing Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which he's teased he's prone to do, he'll return to his idea for this video game adaptation. The subject first came up on Twitter when Gunn was asked if there were any video games he'd like to turn into a movie. That's when he revealed this about the Hitman series.
"I tried to make a Hitman movie a few years ago. But the producers at the time didn't want to make it R rated, so they passed."
Though Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel are both rated PG-13, James Gunn is not stranger to R-Rated fare. His superhero comedy Super was gloriously R-Rated, as was his cult horror hit Slither. So we can bet he had some interesting ideas for Hitman. Though, the studio might consider the R rating a curse for the franchise at this point, and might really go with a PG-13 rating the next time they decide to dust off this title and try for another round at the box office.
A PG-13 rating for either of the previous movies would have possibly brought more ticket sales from younger audiences, but it's hard to imagine that toning down the violence and sex in either film would have made them better on a critical level. It's possible that Gunn's writing could give this franchise the much-needed boost it needs. It's also possible that this video game just doesn't translate well to the big screen no matter how you pitch it forward.
You can take a look at James Gunn's Tweet, and only imagine if his Hitman would have fared any better. The video game genre just can't catch a break, with Angry Birds being the biggest domestic success thus far. Though, while Warcraft was a substantial flop in the states, it did prove itself to be a hit in China. And a sequel to that movie may be underway. It's unclear at this juncture if Hollywood will ever be able to break the video game movie curse.