Fact Sheet

The Dark Knight Rises' PG-13 rating: 4 talking points

The upcoming summer blockbuster escapes an R rating, but fans should still brace themselves for envelope-pushing violence and... sensuality?

Every little detail about this summer's maniacally anticipated Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, seems to inspire astounding levels of analysis. That was the case when the teaser poster was released, the film trailer premiered, the first six minutes of the film was screened, and now, when the film's PG-13 rating was announced. Although many movie junkies suspected that the final installment of Christopher Nolan's trilogy would be branded R, the MPAA decided that the film will be rated PG-13 for its "intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality, and language." (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight received the same PG-13 rating.) Here, four things critics are buzzing about:  

1. The movie's box office domination is now inevitableThe PG-13 rating is a gift to The Dark Knight Rises, says Christopher Rosen at The Huffington Post. An R rating would have barred many young moviegoers, and significantly curtailed the film's earning power. With that obstacle gone, you can bet the film will be the highest-grossing hit of the summer. Yes, adolescent fanboys can now flock to the movie in droves without having to drag along their parents, says Brent Lang at The Wrap. "While a lot of box office records have been broken in the last year, I think it's safe to assume The Dark Knight Rises is going to take them all back," says Steve Weintraub at Collider.  

2. The ratings system will come under attackNolan's 2008 film, The Dark Knight, was violent, disturbing, and intense, says Borys Kit at The Hollywood Reporter, and many parents argued that it should have been rated R. Expect a repeat of that debate this summer. And as we've learned from the Bully ratings debacle, the MPAA is far more likely to grant PG-13 ratings to violent films than those with sex or bad language, says Lang. Those standards will undoubtedly inspire more outrage as parents object to The Dark Knight Rises' violent content. 

3. The film may be surprisingly sexyThe PG-13 rating for "intense sequences of violence and action" is par for the course, says Adam B. Vary at Entertainment Weekly. Both of Nolan's Batman films received rating justifications with similar wordings. But the "sensuality" aspect is new and intriguing. Will the relationship between Christian Bale's Batman/Bruce Wayne and Anne Hathaway's Catwoman/Selina Kyle be steamier than we expect?

4. Regardless, the movie itself is doneOnly finished movies get ratings, says Kit. And most major blockbusters are still tweaking things within weeks of their release; not even Prometheus, which has a June 8 debut, is rated yet. This "highlights how efficient Nolan is as a filmmaker," and also suggests that a massive marketing onslaught complete with early screenings — and plot leaks! — will begin soon.

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