Borderlands: Will The Movie Be R-Rated?
The Borderlands franchise has had 12 years of success and is now being adapted for the big screen, which will be released next year. The film will maintain the look and tone of the original game. But will the game be violent enough to warrant an R-rating or irreverent enough? The ESRB has rated Borderlands games M for mature. This excludes gamers younger than 17 from the franchise for violence and language. Therefore, an adaptation of the franchise should have an R-rating (the MPAA equivalent). However, a game rated M is not the same as a movie rated R.
A person could easily assume that most popular franchise games are rated M if they only looked at the blockbuster games. However, games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty sell extremely well despite being mature. V is the latest franchise and the second-best-selling game. Comparatively, only 2019’s Joker is the R-rated film among the top 50 most-sold films.
This significantly impacts studios and can often cause them to cut films to fit within a PG-13 rating. It is hard to explain the difference, but both cases have similar barriers to entry. The reason for the discrepancy may be that success at the box office is often measured. Theater employees are required to enforce the rating. However, games can be sold more frequently over the internet, making it easier to evade the restriction. The impact of the rating is a significant difference in any case.
Borderlands has been adored for its fast-paced shoot/loot gameplay, offbeat characters, and clever but sarcastic sense of humor. It maintains a light tone by keeping the violence comical and the dialogue immature and irreverent. Borderlands’ blood and gore do not reach the heights of other visceral series such as Mortal Kombat and Doom. However, the game’s moment-to-moment gameplay loop involves shooting, slashing, and smashing enemies.
The series’ style of writing is perhaps even more important. Characters use quippy dialogue and regularly swear, leaving innuendo around. Most people are familiar with the MPAA standards and find them quite absurd. In addition, many are familiar with the language requirements for a PG-13 rating. This includes the fact that a PG-13 movie is permitted to use the F-word only once. Fans would be likely to raise eyebrows if Borderlands games were placed under this restriction.
While setting Borderlands up as an R-rated film carries some risk, there are many benefits. Your film being given a hard rating is a bold statement that sets it apart. It also shows confidence in the film’s quality and appeals. Fans may be impressed that the filmmakers are willing and able to take the risk of adopting the film as they believe it should be. Deadpool has been the most popular example of this strategy. Star Ryan Reynolds and the producer made it clear that the film required an R-rating to tell the true story. While the R-rating debate is raging, setting a film apart could attract hardcore fans and convert casual fans. It would also allow the filmmaker to bring the most authentic version of the story to screen.
Eli Roth is the film’s director. He seems enthusiastic about the project. While his most well-known films are horror thrillers, he has also worked in action and children’s film production. Although he is well-known for his gore films, his films often have a humorous sense of humor that would be at home in the Borderlands franchise. Unfortunately, none of his films is a direct analog to the source material. He did, however, star in a film that could be a great inspiration for the film.
Roth was the fan-favorite character Donnie “The Bear Jew” Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s classic The Inglorious Basterds. Basterds offers a fascinating look at the structure of a Borderlands movie. It features a cast of charming characters who perform incredible violence while delivering intricately written dialogue. The filmmakers could change the setting to an alien, hostile dictatorship, or hostile fascist dictatorship and not take the dialogue seriously. They would have a great start point for an R-rated Borderlands movie.
There is an argument to be made against an R-rating for the Borderlands film. Fans of the franchise come in a wide variety of ages, including many well below 18. The escalation to an R rating would keep many fans out of the theater seats and at least slow their ability to see the game brought to film video game movies carry a stigma with them which can be difficult to overcome, it is reasonable to suggest the film should take all the help it can get.
Beyond that, the standards held by the ESRB and the MPAA are notably different. Although fans often debate the validity of ESRB ratings, some media groups allow commenters to suggest their own rating for specific games. Many gamers believe that the Borderlands franchise should not carry the M rating, as its more mature details are heavily stylized. Most violence depicted feels closer to Looney Tunes than to Tarantino, and the sense of humor often holds firmly in the middle school mindset.
Notably, most of the games have an option in the settings menu to obscure blood and gore. So if fans believe the game could enjoy a T for Teen rating and some even choose to excise the cartoony carnage, a filmmaker might be able to make a great adaptation of Borderlands, even within a PG-13 rating.
Borderlands presents a brimming world with opportunity, and fans are excited to see what the filmmakers do with the franchise. Of course, there are arguments for and against the film seeking an R-rating, but the film might have what it takes to be great either way.