James Gunn‘s highly anticipated DC Comics adaptation was handed an R 18+ rating on June 1st. The rating – the highest available in Australia for a theatrical release – restricts anyone under the age of 18 from viewing the classified content. Australia’s Classification Board provided the rating due to what it deemed to be “High Impact Violence.”
Well, it didn’t take long for an appeal process to get underway. The Classification Board announced on June 8th that it would be reviewing its decision after receiving an appeal application from Universal Pictures International. On June 15th, the appeal proved to be a success.
The Suicide Squad‘s rating has been lowered to MA 15+ for “strong fantasy violence, blood and gore, and frequent coarse language.”
“In the Classification Review Board’s opinion The Suicide Squad warrants an MA 15+ classification because the violence and coarse language have a strong impact,” the Classification Review Board said in a statement. “The overall impact of the classifiable elements in the film was strong. The Review Board also determined that the comedic tone and fantasy setting of the film mitigated the impact of the classifiable elements.”
Australia’s MA 15+ rating signifies that persons aged under 15 cannot attend screenings unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult.
Scoring a lower classification rating is certainly a win for Universal Pictures International, considering the further limitations that an R rating would provide in an already challenging release market. Not all appeals manage to get ratings lowered; just recently, Chris Rock-starring Saw film Spiral had its Australian R 18+ rating upheld following an appeal by distributor StudioCanal.
In the US, The Suicide Squad has been rated R for “strong violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and brief graphic nudity.” The US ‘R’ rating means an individual “Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian,” in contrast with Australia’s “material is restricted to adults” approach. Australia’s R rating is more equivalent to the US NC-17 rating, with “no one 17 and under admitted.”
The Suicide Squad, with an all-star ensemble that includes Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis, among others, hits Australian cinemas on August 5th. In the US, the film opens theatrically and on streaming platform HBO Max on August 6th.