Hopes had been high that Lionsgate’s recent ‘Power Rangers’ would relaunch the franchise on the big screen, but with a global box office haul of $140.2 million off the back of a $100 million budget, the chances of a sequel are looking very slim indeed.
Ostensibly a far cry from the bright colours and two-dimensional characterisations of the kid-friendly 1990s TV series ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,’ 2017’s ‘Power Rangers’ took a surprisingly grounded and serious approach to the tale of five teenagers suddenly transformed into superheroes charged with protecting the Earth.
As has long been the norm for blockbusters, ‘Power Rangers’ was rated PG-13 in America, and the equivalent 12A in Britain. However, the film’s director Dean Israelite argues that the film is suitable for younger children, and worries that the rating may have put parents off.
Asked whether the PG-13/12A rating hurt ‘Power Rangers’ commercially, Israelite tells Screen Rant, “Yes, definitely… if the movie had been rated PG, there would have been more traffic. I think parents were unsure if they could bring their kids to the movie, which surprised me, because the movie is a tame PG-13.
“We did a lot of preview screenings, and to me, it felt like a seven-year-old might be scared, but in a good way. They liked that they were scared of Rita, but they still came out of the movie enjoying it, they liked what was going on.
“I think we really tread that line well, so it was disappointing that parents didn’t know that they could take their kids to it. I’m hoping now, with it coming out on DVD and Blu-ray, and On Demand, that parents will feel more comfortable. That maybe they’ll check it out for themselves and then see that it’s suitable.”
Israelite’s argument might not hold up too well, given how many mega-blockbusters of the past two decades have been 12A-rated; take this year’s ‘Fast & Furious 8,’ which has taken almost $1.24 billion worldwide to date.
Instead, it seems fairer to say that ‘Power Rangers’ was scuppered more by problems with tone, struggling to balance heavy teenage angst and issue-based drama with the anticipated cartoonish monster-fighting action. The ‘Honest Trailer’ below provides a good approximation of these problems (with mild spoilers).
Lionsgate release ‘Power Rangers’ to home entertainment in the UK on 31 July.