- The original cuts of all The Hunger Games movies directed by Francis Lawrence received an R rating due to the violent subject matter and numerous brutal deaths in the series.
- The movies had to be toned down to earn a PG-13 rating in order to reach their target audience of young adults and become a cultural phenomenon.
- Although an R-rated version would be interesting, the PG-13 rating accurately represents the story and makes the films more accessible to general audiences.
Francis Lawrence, who has directed every movie in The Hunger Games series since Catching Fire, has revealed the original cuts of every movie received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The franchise focuses on its titular Games, which involve children from Districts across Panem being forced to fight one another to the death. Because of this, many brutal and tragic deaths transpire throughout the series, aligning with its dark subject matter.
Speaking with Jake’s Takes, Lawrence revealed that every movie in The Hunger Games franchise that he worked on originally got an R rating from the MPA.
At 2:21, the director is asked about how he keeps every movie PG-13 despite the murderous contest the films focus on. He reveals that, in reality, the theatrical releases are toned-down versions of the first, R-rated cut. Check out what Lawrence had to say below:
The truth is every Hunger Games movie that I’ve done has gotten an R rating at first. And we always have to inch it back and inch it back and inch it back, and go back and forth with the MPAA to sort of nudge it back into PG-13. So I’m always approaching it thinking we have to be PG-13, but we always end up getting an R first and have to inch it back.
Why The Hunger Games Movies Need To Be PG-13
Due to the franchise’s focus on a contest where children and teenagers kill one another, it makes sense why first cuts of the movies would land an R rating. From the many characters Katniss kills, like Gloss, to the deadly opening of Catching Fire‘s Games at the resource-rich Cornucopia, a higher rating for the movie seems justifiable. It also underscores the amount of effort that went into making the movies more accessible through a PG-13 rating.
A lower rating for the films was necessary despite their violent subject matter because of the franchise’s target audience. Author Suzanne Collins wrote her book series for young adults, meaning the film versions couldn’t be restricted to older viewers that may not have been as engaged. Without PG-13 ratings, the films may not have become the cultural phenomenon they were. It also may not have led to the upcoming adaptation of its prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.
While it would be interesting to see a bloodier, R-rated cut of The Hunger Games series, the final versions still represent the story accurately. It’s more fitting for the movies to be PG-13 because of their target demographic, alongside toning down any possibly disturbing scenes for general audiences. Despite how intriguing a different version of the movies would be, the ones that were released are still classic, action-packed films.
The next film in the franchise, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, arrives in theaters November 17, 2023.
Source: Jakes Takes/YouTube
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes