Sony's Venom movie was always intended to be appropriate for a PG-13 audience.
The film's executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, along with director Ruben Fleischer, revealed as much while talking to ComicBook.com. Though the Marvel movie contains intense, dark sequences and a dose of crude language, a business decision lead the filmmakers away from an R-rating which could discourage families and younger audiences from the box office.
"To me, R is not a consideration," Arad said. "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. 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."
Despite what some fans might start to believe as rumors swirl across social media and in corners of Reddit threads, there never was and never will be a version of the film which contained heavy amounts of graphic violence. "There isn't some phantom version of the movie," Tolmach explained. "Everyone is asking us that. Is there an R-rated cut sitting there? There isn't. We came into this production and the development of the movie wanting to make a movie that was true to Venom, true to the comics, and true to the character, but at the same time is a movie that 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds can see. We had to push right up against it. We're 15+ in England. It's not like we just wanted to make a family film. We wanted to push it as hard as we could, but also to make it accessible. That was always the goal."
From director Ruben Fleischer, the message was the same, citing inspiration from one of the most renowned comic book movies in history. "We only ever talked about this movie as being PG13," Fleischer said. "What I've said in the past is that we wanted to push the violence to the hilt. The Dark Knight was always a huge reference point for me, personally, just as far as how far you could take a PG-13 because that movie they put a pen through a guy's forehead so I figure if you can do that in a PG-13 movie you can bite some heads off."
Ultimately, Fleischer stands by the film he crafted within PG-13 parameters. "I'm proud to say I think I accomplished, was to take it to the full limit," he said. "I feel like we don't compromise Venom in any real way. He's as aggressive as fans could possibly hope for, I think."
Venom hits theaters on October 5, 2018.