For a brief moment this past weekend, the impossible happened - the unrated Hatchet 2 opened in over 60 theaters and became a cause for celebration among horror film fans, who viewed the release as a possible way to break the seemingly arbitrary
MPAA chokehold that they see as part of the decline of the horror genre.
Hatchet 2 is one of the few times in the last twenty-five years that an unrated film has gotten any sort of theatrical release and the horror launched a Twitter and
Facebook campaign to support it.
Leading horror website DreadCentral.com had even asked fans to buy tickets for Hatchet 2 online even if they aren't near a theater showing it as a way to send a message to Hollywood that there's a market for
That dream barely made it through the weekend; the theater chains that were carrying Hatchet 2 pulled it without explanation by Monday morning. It's tough to really know the specific box office numbers since several
theaters - in Canada, specifically -- wound up pulling the film right away due to fear of being fined for showing an unrated film, says Green. We're hearing that others decided to only show Hatchet 2 at specific times due to the hassle of
having to have someone guard the cinema door to check IDs. When I saw the film in Los Angeles there was a guard at the door for the entire movie checking ticket stubs and IDs where necessary. It was kind of crazy.
Adam Green and his marketers pinned their hopes for that miracle on AMC, and an ad campaign that specifically tied Hatchet II 's lack of a rating (I
saw posters for the film at Fantastic Fest that even used the tagline Support Unrated Horror ). If nothing else, Hatchet II 's $52,000 weekend gross proves that turning a gory, tongue-in-cheek slasher movie into a referendum on free speech
isn't a shortcut to box office gold. Those uncut and unrated slogans are on DVDs because people want to see extreme blood and guts, not because they're looking to strike a blow against organized censorship. They're horror fans, not freedom
The sad truth of the matter is that no one at [distributor] Dark Sky has been able to tell me the exact reasons behind
why the film was pulled (they have not gotten a clear explanation whatsoever) and I only know what I am hearing from the public on Twitter and AMC's response to the press of we base our decisions on performance which does not add up given that we
know of at least two theaters that had pulled the film after just 24 hours and given the grand scheme of things, other genre titles performed worse per screen, even though they had bigger budgets and traditional spends on marketing campaigns as opposed
All signs would point to AMC being unhappy with how vocal I was about the MPAA and not wanting to deal with the controversy — which if the case, is their given right. Had the film grossed millions, maybe it
would be a different story with them, but given the size of our release and the nature of what this is, all we ever could have hoped for was a few grand per screen in a realistic scenario.
When Hatchet II came out, they [the MPAA] were under fire because of the torture-porn that was getting through. But the reason that torture-porn was
getting through was because it was being distributed by a studio that pays their salaries, so they couldn't stop it. So there is all this backlash from parents, and I come along with a swamp monster with a gas-powered belt sander, killing comedians like
Monty Python, and they came down on me!
But they fucked with the wrong guy because I beat them. I got my film into theatres unrated - which hasn't happened in 30 years - for 48 hours. Then I became the first movie to ever get
pulled from theatres. There was all this bullshit that it wasn't performing but in fact it did so great that, within 72 hours of the DVD release, a third one got greenlit. So the MPAA can eat a fucking dick. Hatchet III is coming, so I win, they
I'm sick of PG-13 horror. Ugh! Another remake? Screw going to the theatre, I'll just wait to see the unrated edition on DVD or Blu-ray.
How many of you have said such things?
The sad part is we've gotten used to it. The MPAA has beaten back the genre countless times with their double standards and self given right to deem for us what is acceptable and what is not. No one dared to challenge them, no matter how much we bitched,
cried, and moaned. We were never afforded the chance to do anything about their rule over the horror genre, something they clearly do not even understand.
This weekend for
the first time in over a quarter of a century a movie is coming out in a pretty damned wide release (all things considered) at AMC theatres across the country unrated and untampered with by the film group for whom cool began and ended with the Fonz on
Happy Days . Adam Green's Hatchet II isn't looking to reinvent the wheel. That was never the intention. Adam and company just made the film that they wanted to make. He was content with it going straight to DVD unrated. Better that than seeing
his flick get butchered again. But then Dark Sky and MPI Films got behind it full force. AMC loved the movie enough to grant it a wide theatrical release. This wasn't an act of defiance of the MPAA on anyone's part who are directly connected to the film,
but you know what? It can be for us. We can take the reins here. We have an opportunity to make our voices heard and possibly change the rules in the process.
If we as horror fans make it a point to make sure that Hatchet II
is successful at the box office this weekend, we can take back some of the power that the MPAA has been unmercifully wielding for so many years and do so in a way that Hollywood understands ... with cash! Theatre chains would always shy away from
unrated horror releases because they didn't think it would be profitable for them to bother showing a film without the ratings board's blessing. We have a unique chance right now to prove that's bullshit!
If this movie
is successful this weekend, other theatre chains will be more receptive to the idea of giving indie filmmakers their shot to reach their audience. No one wants to miss out on something profitable. And for the filmmakers the hassle of having to go on
trial in front of the MPAA to get their movie rated so it can get out there just may not seem so necessary anymore, and we can FINALLY start getting what we crave the most: Our movies. Our way. Does it get any more punk rock than that?
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the NC-17 rating, invented by the MPAA to separate certain graphic yet non-pornographic films from the porn connotations of the X rating. But the new classification immediately had its own stigma and many theater
chains and video stores wouldn't carry films with the NC-17 mark.
Now AMC Theatres, which has long been one of those against booking films lacking classification, is opening its screens (around 60 locations) to the horror sequel Hatchet II , which makes this the widest opening for an unrated film in 25 years. (probably referring to The Evil Dead which opened unrated in 128 theaters and took home more than $2 million)
It's assumed that following the October 1 release of
Hatchet II, the also-unrated horror release I Spit on Your Grave will be booked in similar fashion. Then what? If the first title is successful -- and I think it has a good shot at being the highest-grossing unrated film of all time -- can
we expect filmmakers to actually start trying to garner an NC-17 just to then go out unrated? Will films that wouldn't even receive an NC-17 exploit the sudden approval by going unrated anyway?
MoreHorror.com sources attending the San Diego Comic-Con have a report about the upcoming Adam Green release of Hatchet II .
Dark Sky Films are stating that they plan to have the film released in theaters entirely in its UNRATED format.
Green told the audience at the convention that the MPAA has (yet again) asked that entire scenes be removed from the movie because they are too violent!
It seems however that won't be a factor anymore since an unnamed theater chain has been
confirmed to allow the entire version to run in theaters this coming October.
AMC Theaters will be showing the unrated cut of the film as part of its AMC Independent program. This means the uncut version of Hatchet II will be shown theatrically in the top 20 markets in the United States.