DC’s The Suicide Squad has become the first modern DC or Marvel superhero movie to be hit with the dreaded R18+ rating in Australia, according to a new listing from the Australian Classification Board.
While exact details have not been revealed, the reason for the rating is “high impact violence” — and when you have King Shark ripping people in two in the trailer, you can see why.
Drug use, language and themes all place the film squarely in the bracket for an MA15+ rating, but it appears the film’s violence is what pushed the rating over the edge. But this will be appealed when the Australian Classification Review Board meets to reassess the film on June 15. (Note: This was originally set for July 19, but has since been rescheduled.)
While R18+ ratings aren’t bad per se, they do limit the box office appeal of films. And after the year we’ve had, no doubt DC/Warner Bros. will want a win. In Australia, the film will only launch in cinemas, meaning strict age limiting could reduce the film’s local box office.
An MA15+ rating means anyone over 15 can see the film unaccompanied — but it also means people under 15 can see the film with parent or guardian supervision. So while it also restrict age, anyone who really wants to see an MA15+ film can. Having an R18+ rating means The Suicide Squad will be restricted to an adults-only audience.
The classification applicant (which appears to be Universal Pictures, in this instance) has already lodged an appeal to change the rating, which could mean a few things going forward. If the decision is overturned by the Classification Board, the film could simply be re-rated without issue. But if the same R18+ conclusion is reached, The Suicide Squad may need to be censored to fit the desired MA15+ rating.
It could be a simple matter of a single scene being removed, but if the violence rating was earned by consistent high impact violence, the version of The Suicide Squad we get in Australia could look different to the global release.
Alternatively, Warner Bros. could accept the rating and take the subsequent hit to the box office.
The results of the June 15 appeal will be posted on the Australian Classification website post-discussion — and further action will take place following this decision.
The Suicide Squad is currently scheduled to release in Australian cinemas on August 5.
Gizmodo Australia reached out to the Australian Classification Board, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures for comment. This article will be updated as we hear back.
Update 9/6/21, 4:50 p.m. AEST: In an email to Gizmodo Australia, the Australian Classification Board re-iterated high impact violence as the reason for the film’s rating and stated the detailed decision report would be available following the release of the film.