In Hollywood, the prevailing thought is an R-rating holds a film back. (The closest Australian equivalent is MA15+.) The feeling is, by limiting the audience to people over 17, studios aren’t allowing films to live up to their full financial potential. Forget the fact forcing a rating hinders creativity and kids will see a movie anyway, it’s just the way some executives think.
That’s why you rarely see movies rated R in the US that cost as much as the biggest PG and PG-13 movies. For example, the main reason 20th Century Fox made Deadpool with a US R-rating (MA15+ in Australia) is because it was cheap by their standards — about $US60 million ($80 million), according to Box Office Mojo. Which means, if you want your movie to get an R-rating, concessions have to be made.
And that’s exactly what Hugh Jackman did for the third and final Wolverine film, Logan. According to director James Mangold, Jackman took a pay cut to help bring the film down to a budget the studio was comfortable with making an R-rated release.
Mangold said this at Butt-Numb-A-Thon, a 24 hour film festival held in Austin, TX, where 40 minutes of the film were screened. It was the same footage that played in New York last week, and got insanely good reactions.
So how much less did Jackman make? We don’t know. But even if Logan doesn’t live up to the early reactions, you have to think the goodwill and artistic freedom the pay cut gives him will end up paying off in the long run. Maybe not monetarily, but in history remembering that Jackman sent the character out in style.