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Hancock is a Darker Blockbuster Than You Might Imagine

by
May 6, 2008
Source: NY Times

John Hancock

This year's big 4th of July film is one starring the one-and-only Will Smith, who usually resides in that spot anyway. Although I may have a bit of disdain for Hancock, the talent involved is undeniably strong: Peter Berg (The Rundown, The Kingdom) directing, Akiva Goldsman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, I Am Legend) and Michael Mann (Ali, Collateral, Miami Vice) producing, and of course Will Smith. However, an interesting tidbit about the darker, more violent nature of the film has recently been revealed in a New York Times article. In it, Berg speaks about the more adult undertones related to the character of Hancock, as originally created by first-time writer Vincent Ngo. It seems this isn't the light-hearted comedic blockbuster that we've all imagined it would be.

The original screenplay for Hancock, titled Tonight, He Comes, was a sexual and violent interpretation of an alcoholic supehero. Berg explains that although they've since modified the movie to be more appealing to wider audiences, it has "remained surprisingly sexual, violent and true in spirit to an original script that was viewed as brilliant but unmakable." As of mid-April, Hancock had been to the ratings board twice and received an R-rating both times. "We had statutory rape up until three weeks ago," Berg said. And as far as we've heard, they're still working to trim it to down to a necessary PG-13 rating or their won't be any fireworks at Sony Pictures this 4th of July.

Sony's Amy Pascal said of the film, "it's scary in that it goes farther than we've gone before." However, they're still trying to keep it edgy and similar to Ngo's original script, but must play "an epic game of chicken," as Berg has referred to it. In addition to the "statutory rape" that Berg mention previously, other areas of concern involve flying and driving drunk as well as a scene involving Hancock getting drunk with a 17-year-old, as opposed to a 12-year-old as originally scripted. The rest we'll have to wait until July 2nd to discover, unless it all gets trimmed out before release, which could certainly happen.

If anything, I'm a bit more intrigued to see Hancock now. I think all of my hatred stemmed for the very first, poorly made teaser trailer. It just had the right elements to really piss me off, but I'm admittedly much more interested after seeing some of the darker, more emotional elements come out in the latest full trailer. Mentioned of these sort of violet elements is of course going to strike up controversy with particular groups and advocates who think the movie should be banned because of this, but I think they're missing the whole picture. I'm certain we're going to get a very poignant lesson about make decisions by the end of the movie, that's almost guaranteed.

If you're curious to hear more about the film, head over to the NY Times to read the full article. I'm much more interested in seeing Hancock now, which is definitely a change of heart on my own part. Howver, I'm wondering, are darker themes like too much for a 4th of July movie, though? Will there be complaints from the public or will this be embraced as something much edgier than we normally see? How interested in seeing Hancock are you?

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  • Denver
    I would say that Will Smith has had some good and some really good movies the last few years. I was a bit standoff-ish on this one, but after reading the article, it does look a little more appealing. My only question is, why, if they knew what kind of movie they were gearing towards did they market it in such a way to suggest a action-comedy? In marketing it the way they did with the teaser and the first trailer, it makes it seem like a totally different movie. The basis of the movie is interesting, a "superhero" that isn't the politically correct version of how we perceive a superhero to be. I just hope that it pans out the way the NY Times article is describing it. One more thing, why does it HAVE to be a PG-13 rating? I remember seeing tons of little kids at Knocked Up that were far younger than 17.
  • The Delightful Deviant
    i'm surprised that the usually clean cut "i don't need to curse to sell records" Will Smith even agreed to do a movie with statutory rape and minors drinking.
  • It needs to be PG-13 because, as much as you may perceived R-rated movies as just as well-attended, the truth is they make drastically less than PG-13 movies. Sony needs this to be their big summer July 4th blockbuster that makes lots of money and is family-friendly enough to draw endless crowds. You can't do that if you can't even take your kids to see it! They're a business, and they need to make their money, and this time that is done by putting out a PG-13 movie on the 4th of July. It's similar to Where the Wild Things Are - but I would argue with that one Spike Jonze deserves to make the movie he wanted since they're not selling it on July 4th - but they basically "want" a kids movie out of it.
  • darrin
    it seems to be more of a pg13 film.
  • robert_b
    Hopefully the DVD will have both versions. Might be pretty interesting to see the R rated version.
  • Denver
    Alex, I agree with you on the basis for giving it a PG-13 rating. However, this isn't just another comic book movie where it's primarily geared more towards teenagers and little kids. I understand Sony's position around giving it that rating for the simple basis of cashing in, seeing as there are really no major Sony pictures coming out during the summer. They've been set the last few years with the Spider-Man franchise, but don't really have much to offer this year.
  • angelo
    i hope they release a non rated version in the future
  • Boo-Yah
    I'm very surprised to learn this about the film - thought it was another more light-hearted Will Smith flick. But perhaps this is the summer of the "darker" blockbuster? We already have TDK which is going to be huge and very dark - and now this? I'm not trying to compare the two (TDK will be far better and I am way more amped to see that). If the movie is this borderline dark, you know they'll release an unrated DVD version with all this stuff back in. Much like Fox did with Live Free or Die Hard.
  • I've always thought the film could be a decent renter. With this new info though I'm far more intrigued and saddened. I want to see a super-hero movie with adult themes. I've had enough of the typical kids crap.
  • wm
    It'd be cool if theaters would show the kiddie version during the day and show the R-Rated version at a 10pm showing. I think that would work. But then you might get some jack-ass projectionist showing the wrong version at the wrong time. Oh well...
  • Curtis
    im looking forward to this movie, and this news just gets me more excited i wonder how far its going to be taken and wonder what it would have been like if they just left it.
  • Iron Man Fan
    The rating does not matter. I personally like this approach to a superhero movie and I think it would greatlly benefit form an R rating, but as long as it is a sold movie and they keep the original sprit by editing it as little as possible it will be fine.
  • silver
    Wow. I'm definitely leaning towards the "give Will Smith my ten bucks" side now. I am also suprised to hear that Will Smith would agree to do so dark a movie.
  • Avelanch
    this move sound better and better every day.
  • RStewie
    Im excited to hear about this. A darker movie about an alcoholic superhero is DEFINITELY something I'd pay to see. I'm glad to see Will Smith expanding his horizons, too, to include movies that aren't all happy, happy, joy, joy.
  • Very exciting and intresting news.
  • I love how news like this that is probably shaking up advocates like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Jack Thompson is causing moviegoers like all of you to actually get even MORE interested in it. Thankfully we all understand it's a movie and can keep ourselves separated from whatever "bad things" happen in it, but I just love how this is turning everyone onto it when I'd expect the normal reaction to be something like "this is an atrocity!" Bravo Hancock! 😀
  • A bit of mis-marketing perhaps? From the trailers and clips I've seen this has seemed like a more light-hearted film. I envisioned it less as a superheor action flick and more as a comedy featuring a superhero, like My Super Ex-Girlfriend, only funny. Now I'm being told it's a edgy, violent film that really delves deep into Hancock's dark side? HELLS YEAH!! I've already forgiven Will Smith for being in Independence Day, so he didn't have to make it up to me for giving me this gift. And yet he did it anyway. I am SO there it's not even funny. Although the movie still better be. I may have to settle for a tamer PG-13 version in the theaters, but I'll be puting money on an unrated version for the home audience sooner or later. I can wait. :) And don't worry, MADD. This film won't influence me to drive drunk (any more than I already do). And it won't influence me to go bang a 16 year old, guy from To Catch a Predator.
  • Scott Carr
    I am super excited to experience this film. It's unfortunate that director Peter Berg needs to cut his R-rated film down to a PG-13 version. I believe in the director's vision (the artistic force of the film) reaching the screen vs. the producer/studio's version (the business driven component). I appreciate and understand that with this kind of money on the line, it's integral to make the film as mass audience-friendly as position. Berg may even been forced to reinvent a version of the film that may be improved upon his original vision; a decision he would not have needed to make or explore had the studio approved a R-rated cut. Regardless, in the talent and passionate hands of Peter, Will and their team, I know the film will reach the screen in a form that will honor the film that people want to see. The second trailer looks so awesome. The story sounds fun. The action looks exciting and intense. Wild, realistic special effects. And funny too. I'm glad that the trailer pushed the action/special effects angle more so than anything because I think that is what will draw people into the theaters (that and Will Smith as an atypical superhero). I'm sure it's a fun story with some strong, dramatic and important undertones. Peter Berg films always possess a theme that looks at our world through a microcosmic lense and makes a comment on how it is and how is should be. I will be in line on July 2 to have an off-the-hook celebration at the movies. Bring on Hancock!!!
  • twanda moore
    he is beautiful

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