why does the PG-13-rated ‘Beowulf’ have a redband trailer?

I started off pissed, and now I’m scared. Seriously.

Look: I’ve been kinda psyched for the upcoming Beowulf, opening November 16, because it’s cowritten by geek god Neil Gaiman and directed by Robert “Back to the Future” Zemeckis and because, well, it’s Beowulf, one of the greatest stories ever told and one of the wellsprings of modern epic fantasy.

And then I heard that this movie, which is slated for a PG-13 rating — or so Gaiman and his cowriter Roger Avery said at ComicCon this summer — has a redband, or “restricted” trailer, which means it contains R-rated material. (Trailers for all audiences, of course, are “greenband.”) Why would a PG-13 flick need a redband trailer? I’ll tell ya why: because Paramount, the studio releasing the film, is gonna try to squeeze as much dough out of us suckers as possible. They’ll get ya to put your butt in the seat for a regular multiplex showing — as well as for IMAX and IMAX 3-D showings — and then they’ll come at ya again with an unrated DVD release, which all the fanboys simply won’t be able to resist. I mean, look at how many versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy we all bought on DVD. (Or so the thinking goes; this ain’t gonna be no Lord of the Rings.) And the fanboy suckers will fall for it, because rumor has it that — hoo boy! — one of the reasons for the harder rating will be full frontal female nudity supplied by Angelina Jolie, who’s playing the monster Grendel’s wacky, witchy mother. (I’m thinking it will be much like her insane performance as Alexander’s mother in that flick.)
This is all easily guessed, and why I was pissed, at yet another mendacious example of a studio messing us, its customers, around. I didn’t get scared until after I decided to torture myself by watching both the green- and redband trailers. The regular ol’ greenband trailer is available at Film.com: I was stunned to discover that the film is one of those CGI-enhanced motion-capture things — somehow this had previously escaped my notice. This new Beowulf looks like a video game, all plastic “people” barely moving their shiny, fakey faces. How I had forgotten Zemeckis’s last adventure in motion-capture, the horrifying Polar Express, I can’t say, except that perhaps the trauma of it forced my brain to block the memory as a defensive measure.

As if that weren’t scary enough, to watch the redband trailer, you have to go to the film’s official site, and then to the “restricted” area of the site. To gain access to the restricted area, you have to supply your full name, zip code, and date of birth. And you can’t offer phony info, either (I tried), because the site checks up on you. They’re not kidding with the “Submit” button: it means “I authorize you to confirm the accuracy of the information I have submitted against government-issued ID.” Ho. Ly. Crap. Submit to your studio overlords right now: they know who you are, and they are using government databases to keep an eye on you.

How on Earth can they get away with that? And how on Earth can they expect that after giving them the right to rifle through your “government-issued ID,” we’ll be satisfied with an “exclusive uncensored Internet trailer” that offers nothing naughty beyond the greenband trailer except a brief glimpse of a possibly nude CGI-enhanced Barbie doll?

It’s time for a revolution. We gotta do something before it’s too late and we’re all at the mercy of Big Brother Global, Ltd., which won’t even keep us happy with decently sinful redband trailers.

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Tue, Sep 11, 2007 6:27pm

Or, and I’m just sayin’, a person could go to YouTube and type, oh, I dunno, say “Beowulf” in the search box, and then, whaddya know, the first video returned is the redband trailer. Just sayin’.

So kids could go through the whole official process and get denied, or they could just watch at the site they are using all the time anyway.

Tonio Kruger
Tonio Kruger
Tue, Sep 11, 2007 7:53pm

“One of the reasons for the harder rating will be full frontal nudity supplied by Angelina Jolie…”
–MaryAnn Johanson

Ahem. There’s always “Gia.” As if a lot of you straight guys didn’t know that already.

Tue, Sep 11, 2007 9:15pm


Yes, you’re right. There *are* other places besides the official site to watch the restricted trailer. But my point still stands: Paramount Pictures is somehow checking site visitors against *government databases*!

Does that not terrify anyone else?

Tue, Sep 11, 2007 10:26pm

How do they even get access to that info? What the hell?


Wed, Sep 12, 2007 6:53am

If you want to watch the trailer on YouTube, better hurry; the studio will be making sure the website pulls it. And with the new ID codes they’re developing, soon people won’t even be able to upload it anymore.

Thu, Sep 13, 2007 2:53pm

I remember when I saw Gaiman at a signing in October of 05, he mentioned the development of this movie, and how he and Avery fought to keep this movie out of Zemeckis’s hands, but ultimately realized that the two of them were just not “bankable” enough to make the film they really wanted to. They gritted their teeth and did the inevitable, probably ruining what could have been a great flick.

Fri, Sep 14, 2007 6:28am

Why on earth should you have to identify yourself in that way, it’s insane! I hope you didn’t actually submit any information to them.

You can always use Dave’s Trailer Page to get the trailer from the site directly, without navigating the website, which kind of defeats the purpose of the age validation!

I think the violence is the reason it’s redband, not just the nudity. You raise an interesting point about the PG-13/R issue though, your theory seems credible, though I suppose perhaps the rating situation has changed since ComicCon?

Funny how you didn’t know about the CG element of the film, I thought that was the main talking point! It does look fake and video game cutscene-like, but the word is it looks really impressive in the 3D format for which it is designed.