There are plenty of films where you can totally understand why a filmmaker feels like the end product was not really what was intended. Many times, that is a result of studio interference. But in the case of “Constantine,” filmmaker Francis Lawrence believes the end result was negatively affected well before cameras rolled. In fact, he thinks it was when he agreed to do the film at a PG-13 rating that doomed his feature.
In a recent watch-along episode of Happy. Sad. Confused., Francis Lawrence talked about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay,” but he also talked a bit about “Constantine.” Why discuss a DC comics film during a ‘Hunger Games’ watch-along? Well, Lawrence has been one of the most vocal people in the fight to get another shot at making a “Constantine” film, and reports say that he is actively in development to make that happen. So, whenever he’s interviewed, the film is always brought up.
In terms of comic book movies, “Constantine” is seen as a movie that really should have worked, but it was doomed from the get-go. The reason for it being doomed is exactly the reason Lawrence gave during the discussion.
“The way it was diluted is Constantine is definitely not a PG-13 character,” said Lawrence. “The big moment of selling out for all of us making that movie was saying yes to it being a PG-13 movie. If we said, ‘No, no, no, it has to be R,’ then we wouldn’t have had nearly the amount of money we had to make it. So I get that.”
He added, “But the truth is, it’s an R-rated character. The problem was, we followed all the rules of a PG-13 movie and we still got an R. There was no arguing. We went back and tried.”
So, why would he want to go back to the “Constantine” franchise if he wasn’t happy with the first film? Well, the filmmaker believes there’s plenty left on the table, in terms of storytelling opportunity. Constantine is such a great character, if done correctly, that clearly Lawrence really wants to get it right at least once. And that begins with a more adult rating.
“What I feel is left on the table is we are going to be able to do the R-rated version of Constantine,” he said. “The more truthful, honest, scary [version].”
Of course, nothing in Hollywood is guaranteed. We still haven’t even discussed the challenge of getting Keanu Reeves onboard to do it all over again. (Though, it seems like he’d be interested.) But if/when a “Constantine” sequel is made, you have to assume an R-rating is all but certain.