Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos It’s never enough, Hunger Games fans! Many of you have been leaving passionate messages on the boards declaring that if Gary Ross’ adaptation hopes to capture the truly brutal nature of Suzanne Collins’ grim new world, the movie had better be rated R. Muttations eat MPAA board members for snacks! But, as director Gary Ross revealed in our exclusive interview, it’s time to get real.
“It’s not going to be an R-rated movie because I want the 12- and 13- and 14-year-old-fans to be able to go see it,” says Ross. “This book means too much to too many teenagers for it not to be PG-13. It’s their story and they deserve to be able to access it completely. And I don’t think it needs to be more extreme than that.” He promises though that his vision for the movie will be just as stirring as anything found in Collins’ prose. “I don’t need to have a huge prosthetic budget or make this movie incredibly bloody in order for it to be just as compelling, just as scary, and just as riveting.”
The book has some terrifyingly vivid scenes of carnage and loss — respect, Cato — to be sure. But Ross maintains that Collins, who he’s already enjoyed hours-long phone conversations with, hasn’t “written in any way an overly graphic book. Even things like the Tracker Jacker sequence, while horrific, it’s the ideas that Suzanne has created that are so harrowing.”
One can’t help but wonder if the demand for an R-rating comes partly from adults who are somewhat mystified by the fact that they devoured a trilogy marketed to the YA audience. Not everyone appreciates being told that they’ve fallen hard for “the next Twilight,” as many in the press have already dubbed Collins’ anti-war trilogy. Producer Nina Jacobson is no stranger to the comparison, even if it’s one she doesn’t buy. “I think anybody who’s read the two books knows that they are as different as night and day, with very little in common other than the youthfulness of their protagonists,” she says. “I mean, Holden Caulfield is young too! But as a producer you can’t help but be thrilled that people are comparing something that you’re working on to something that so many people love.”
For much more of our exclusive conversation with Gary Ross about the Hunger Games, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands today.