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

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:

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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

Ben Pearson
Ben is an entertainment journalist who has written about movies online for nearly a decade. He loves the Fast & Furious franchise, prefers Indiana Jones to Star Wars, and will defend the ending of Lost until his dying day. He shook Bill Murray's hand once (so he's got that going for him, which is nice). Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife.