Earlier this year, it was announced that Warner Bros. was in the early stages of developing a Constantine sequel. While there's still no script for the movie, returning director Francis Lawrence revealed to TheWrap that the storyline has been discussed endlessly.
"We have germs of ideas and dedication,” Lawrence said. “And Keanu and I have been batting around for a while and we’ve always wanted to do it. It’s just that we finally gotten past the hurdle of now we can go ahead and, and really do it. Now we have to just roll up our sleeves and dive in. But we have lots of ideas.”
One of the ideas, Lawrence revealed, is to make the sequel a true R-rated film. The director revealed that when making the 2005 movie, they were limited in what they could and could not do because Warner Bros. wanted it to be PG-13.
“One of the biggest things for me about the first one was we followed, per Warner Bros., the rules to make a PG-13 movie in terms of violence, blood, language, sexuality," Lawrence explained. But if you recall, Constantine was actually given an R rating. This was due to "the gray zone of intensity."
"And my big, big regret was that we have an R-rated movie that’s really a PG-13 movie,” he said. “And if I was going to have to go have an R, I would have really made an R-rated movie. I would have made it much scarier and much more violent and I would have really made an R-rated movie.”
With the upcoming sequel, Lawrence wants "to really go at it and make a real R-rated Constantine which is, I think, what people always wanted originally, not the PG-13 version that just happens to get an R."
Movie studios tend to shy away from producing R-rated films due to the belief that it could limit box office potential. But as we've seen in recent years with films like Deadpool and Logan, an R-rated film can be just as successful as a PG-13 movie if done right.
An R-rating won't guarantee a Constantine sequel will be a box office smash, but it could open things up from a creative standpoint when depicting a character like John Constantine.
“I think John Constantine is a funny character in a darkly comic kind of way and I would want to definitely add more of that sarcastic, cynical sense of humor to the story,” Lawrence said.
The original Constantine didn't fare too well with critics, scoring just a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. It wasn't necessarily the insufficient amount of blood or scariness that critics took issue with, but rather the overall lack of focus in the story itself.
That being said, the general audience seemed to enjoy it a bit more with a 72% overall audience score. In the end, the film grossed $230.9 million against a production budget between $70-$100 million. If Lawrence feels going all in on an R rating will help to make a better overall script, then by all means he should go for it.