The Guardians of the Galaxy director tried to make a Hitman movie but clashed with producers over rating

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What would a Hitman movie from the director of Guardians of the Galaxy have looked like? We may never know, but at least we know one thing: it wouldn’t have shied away from the series’ violence. James Gunn revealed on Twitter that he attempted to direct a film adaptation a few years ago, but ended up clashing with producers over the rating:

Frankly, this is a bizarre stance for the producers to take - especially considering the two Hitman films that currently exist are both rated R. How could anyone make a successful Hitman movie with a PG-13 rating? It’s a franchise based entirely on contract killings (not exactly family-friendly material), and fans who paid to see it wouldn’t want to watch a watered down version of the violence they know from the games. That kind of thinking is classic Hollywood executive nonsense: attempting to shave off the edges to pull in a larger audience, and in the process diluting the aspects that made the story interesting in the first place and alienating its pre-existing fan base.

When Gunn says “a few years ago,” he almost certainly means before the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, because I know he was already at work writing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 during the original film’s opening weekend. This was likely after 2007’s R-rated Hitman movie (starring Timothy Olyphant) came out and made $99 million worldwide. The producers must not have been thrilled with that number, and were considering the possibility of PG-13 in an attempt to pull in some more cash. They didn’t go with Gunn’s vision, but they ultimately decided to make another R-rated movie anyway with 2015’s Hitman: Agent 47. That film actually did worse at the box office than the original: it only made $82 million worldwide.

Consider Gunn’s missed connection another of the many “what could have been” stories floating around Hollywood.

Image: 20th Century Fox