Venom producer Matt Tolmach believes there are “more opportunities” for R-rated storytelling in superhero movies following the success of the R-rated Deadpool, Logan and, most recently, the billion-grossing Joker. That film, an origin story for Batman's infamous archfoe portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, proved to be the most profitable comic book-inspired movie of all time with a $1.05 billion global haul — something that could make studio Sony Pictures consider a heavier rating for its Andy Serkis-directed sequel to the 2018 blockbuster that starred Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed. The first entry in its “Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters,” Sony’s PG-13 and Spider-Man-less Venom ultimately grossed $856 million to become the 11th highest-grossing movie of 2018.
“I mean, I think you always have to think about [it], now that that works. Having said that, our movie worked really well,” Tolmach told CinemaBlend. “Our franchise exists as it is, and I don’t think anybody is looking to just say, ‘Hey, they [did it]!’ We have a place in the world. So it isn’t like suddenly everybody’s considering what to do with the rating.”
“I think what Joker does is it tells you that you can succeed,” Tolmach added of an R-rated comic book movie, noting it was once believed R ratings limited a movie's audience — and its grossing potential — before the breakout success of Deadpool in 2016.
“For a very long time, that was the narrative. And Deadpool sort of wrestled that to the turf, and then Logan, but for a long time, that was considered totally forbidden,” he said. “So you know, I think it’s the greatest thing in the world that R-rated movies are being embraced by massive audiences. And it just means that there are more opportunities for that kind of storytelling.”
Producer Avi Arad — who also produced The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel alongside Tolmach — previously told ComicBook.com an R-rating for Venom was “not a consideration.” Arad explained the Venom franchise could be true to the villain-turned-anti-hero nature of the character without the explicit violence or language associated with a harsher rating.
“Can you get away with not R so that other people can see? So that younger people can see? I made an animated show. There was a lot of Venom in there. It was in ’94. There’s no reason to put in violence,” Arad said. “To define what Venom is as violence. He’s not. He’s the lethal protector, which is a very different thing. We want to be really true to the comics. Today, in CGI and stuff, we can make Venom bite your head. But we don’t have to show the head going side to side like, ‘That actually tastes good.’ It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that you finally understood, is that a bad guy? Yeah.”
Venom 2 opens October 2, 2020.