3 Lessons From 'The Dark Knight Rises' PG-13 Rating

UPDATED: The classification is not unexpected, but it does expose some intriguing nuggets about the soon-to-be summer blockbuster.

The Dark Knight Rises, the new Batman film from Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan, has been rated PG-13. The move is not unexpected -- 2008’s The Dark Knight had the same label -- but it does underscore some interesting tidbits about the movie.

  1. The rating means Dark Knight Rises is completely finished — sound and score included — more than three months before its July 20 release date. That’s an unusual accomplishment for an epic tentpole movie these days, most of which are finalized just weeks before their release. The Amazing Spider-Man, which opens July 2, doesn’t have a rating yet, nor does Prometheus, the Ridley Scott-directed sci-fi film set to open June 8. It also means the cut of the movie screened by Nolan for top Warners brass March 16 was far from a rough print and was close to his final version. The timeline highlights how efficient Nolan is as a filmmaker.
  2. The early rating also fires the starter pistol for the most aggressive phase of Warners' marketing plan, according to sources. As a follow-up to a movie that grossed $1 billion worldwide, hit status for Rises seems inevitable. But Warners clearly isn’t leaving anything to chance: With three months to go and a ratings label in hand, the studio will be able to hone its message with laser-like focus. It also means Warners will be able to start screening the movie for tastemakers and critics. If it chooses to, of course. (UPDATE: Warners says Nolan could still make small technical tweaks to the movie, so it's not quite ready for screenings.)
  3. Finally, TDKR scored its rating for “intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.” The 2008 movie was considered envelope-pushing for its intensity -- some parents were left wondering why the Batman movie hadn’t been rated R -- and the rating leaves no question that audiences can expect the same with the new movie. But by singling out “sensuality” in the label, the ratings board might be indicating that this movie has something new to show about the Caped Crusader. It might also preview a more emotional side of Nolan, whose films have been described as more cerebral than emotion-filled.

E-mail: Borys.Kit@thr.com

Twitter: @Borys_Kit