The MPAA has announced that Sam Mendes’ upcoming World War I movie, 1917, will be rated “R” for “violence, some disturbing images, and language,” which makes sense since it’s a war movie. And yet studios have been playing around a little with how much they can get away with in war movies and get a PG-13. Steven Spielberg’s World War I movie, War Horse, only had a PG-13 rating, and Christopher Nolan was able to get a PG-13 rating for Dunkirk. The latter proved incredibly successful for Warner Bros. with the film pulling in $189 million domestic, and while you can claim that part of that can be attributed to Nolan being such a draw, an R-rating would have been a barrier.
Although there’s no reported budget on 1917, the R-rating cements the movie as a prestige awards play for Universal, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with releasing a serious movie for adults around awards season. While a war picture, especially one made to look like it’s done in one continuous take, is going to be more expensive than potential competitors like Marriage Story and Parasite, Universal still expects that there will be audience for this kind of film around the end of the year. That’s not a bad bet to make, and although we shouldn’t expect it to pull in Dunkirk numbers, there’s no reason 1917 can’t be a success, especially if it garners awards buzz.
1917 opens December 25th and stars George MacKay, Dean-Charles Champman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Here’s the official synopsis for 1917:
At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (Captain Fantastics George MacKay) and Blake (Game of Thrones Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers–Blake’s own brother among them.