We’re all sick of action movies getting the PG treatment, especially old school franchises that we love. RoboCop (2014) will be a good example. There’ll be no need to ‘call a goddamned paramedic’ in that movie, there is no violence in it. Recently though, Schwarzenegger has spoken on this issue. In his book, in fact (review here). Arnold relays his opinion of a decision to make Conan the Destroyer a family movie: “Somebody actually calculated that if Conan the Barbarian was rated PG instead of R, it would have sold 50 percent more tickets”. Arnold said that this was unacceptable. “The hard-core fans would be upset. You have to satisfy your best customers first.” Arnold then went to the studio and let rip: “”You are wimping out,” I told them. “Maybe you should get out of the business if you are embarrassed about the violence or what the character represents. Don’t go and make it something it is not.” It was no use”
Later in the book, Arnold reveals how he feared the studio was planning on making Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) a PG joke, when he heard that his new Terminator would not kill anyone. “I was suspicious that the studio was pulling back and trying to turn The Terminator into something rated PG.” It was then Jim Cameron who put Arnold’s T2 fears to rest. “The killing was still there, but it was done by the T-1000. As soon as I understood that the movie was going to stay R-Rated, I relaxed.” It really does make Schwarzenegger even more likeable, to realise that he’s not a sell out. I think Stallone applied this principle with Rambo IV (2008), when he gave that four minute clip, an orgy of violence, to AICN. He knew that a void was there to be filled and that appealing to hardcore fans on the ‘net was a good promotional practice.
As for Arnold and his book, it is really good and jam-packed with anecdotes and insight like that described above. Although I think that one book wasn’t enough, probably its only problem. If you haven’t read it, you’re a certified girlie-man!