The Odd Futility of ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’

Fox pulled a bit of a surprise out of the bag when they announced in September that there would be an ‘Untitled Deadpool Movie’ released in December 2018, just 7 months after the success of ‘Deadpool 2’.

It transpired that this shock mystery release is a new ‘family friendly’ edit of ‘Deadpool 2’, with about 20 minutes of added scenes. Shamelessly edited to obtain a franchise-low rating of PG-13 in the U.S. so it can capitalize on a slightly younger audience that hadn’t previously been able to see it in theaters. With needed cuts that all-important target was obtained.

However, here in the U.K. both ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Deadpool 2’ were rated 15 (for clarity here that means nobody under 15 will be admitted regardless of if they have an older guardian accompanying them). Therefore the nearest equivalent rating here in the U.K. would be a 12A, which allows 12’s and above to see it unaccompanied, while under 12’s can also see the movie if accompanied by an adult.

The ‘family friendly’ re-edit ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’ has been given its U.K. rating by the BBFC and it’s… a 15!

That means with all the edits, cutting out enough to placate the U.S. rating board the MPAA, they’ve not changed it in any meaningful way in the eyes of the BBFC.

There’s a clear and simple reason for this. Though the marketing has said that no ‘Fs’ will be given in ‘Once Upon A Deadpool’, meaning we know that the most offensive language has been removed, this was never the biggest hurdle for it’s U.K. classification.

Violence seems to be the most obvious explanation. U.S. audiences are far less concerned by that in their PG-13 movies than U.K. audiences are. So while the re-edited movie may be less rude and crude than before, it’s no less violent, something we care about on this side of the pond, especially when it comes to what children see.

I am fascinated by what Fox has done here, making two edits of a film to capitalize on a larger audience, and while others may hate it (especially when it comes to a character like Deadpool), I’d not be against having an option of edits for some films, especially in this genre I’m so fond of. Whether this is a one-off oddity or a new trend will largely depend on box-office success, something that will be clear in a few days time once the numbers for the U.K. and U.S. are released. 

I do think it will be a success in the U.S. and I think it will have a little success in the U.K. with fans who saw ‘Deadpool 2’ and now want to see the 20 minutes of new footage and are interested to see what else has changed. If the violence had been largely cut, I think we would be looking at a far larger success story on this side of the Atlantic as teens want something to go see with their friends as they enter the school holidays. 

Nevertheless, if it is to become a new technique used by studios to widen their audience, they might want to refine it a little, taking into consideration some international variations that would make a huge difference in overseas markets. All the work of re-editing and drastically changing a film to theatrically release it for a younger audience, seems like a lot of work for a limited reward if it only makes a discernable difference to the American theatres. 

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