Now Playing Magazine Chronicles ‘Pirates’ Long Road to an R Rating

LOS ANGELES — Almost a year after its release, Digital Playground’s “Pirates” continues to generate buzz, with the summer edition of Now Playing magazine taking an expansive look at the studio’s long, hard road to achieving an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

In an article titled, “Pirates Spawns Market Flood, X-Rated and Otherwise,” writer Brent Simon quotes Digital Playground founder Joone explaining, “From the time we were writing the script, we wanted to make a movie that could play without any sex in it. We went in with that mentality — saying that we needed a great story, and as strong characters as possible.”

That feat, Joone said, was not as easy as he initially had hoped. The first cut the study provided to the MPAA, had too much sex and not quite enough story, resulting in a flat no.

“We asked if they thought it was possible to get an R-rated cut out of it, and they said, ‘We think you can.’ So that was a little light at the end of the tunnel,” Joone told Simon.

What followed was an epic, six-month struggle to find a balance the ratings body could live with. Part of the problem, Joone said, was lack of clear direction on what is and isn’t acceptable. One minor advantage is that the two main characters were married, so the MPAA didn’t seem to have much objection to them having sex.

Interestingly enough, though, the final product was a movie Joone believes is less explicit than some supposedly mainstream R-rated flicks.

“There were scenes where, from day one, there was no problem with it, but suddenly, in the last two iterations, there was a problem with it,” Joone said. “You felt like you were chasing your tail. Studios get way more leniency with their films, both because of stars and the fact that they know it’s going to be a theatrical release. I mean, we could not, in our movie, have two girls kissing. And in how many movies have you seen that?”

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