‘Breaking Dawn: Part 2' narrowly escapes R rating

The only way to kill a vampire in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” universe is to rip its head off -- not a very family-friendly method for the legion of young fans clamoring to see the final chapter of “The Twilight Saga.”

So, it was with great apprehension that director Bill Condon showed the Motion Picture Assn. of America an early cut of the franchise’s fifth and last installment some six months before the film was ready for release. It was a must-do for the filmmaker, who shot both parts of the final novel, “Breaking Dawn,” in one long six-month shoot. [Spoiler Alert] Without giving too much of the film’s plot away, some vampires die via the gruesome method.

“Certainly, with any other movie, there are a thousand ways to kill people,” Condon said in a recent interview. “With this one, it’s a variation on the same theme. If they were going to be offended by the idea of beheadings, we would have had no movie.”

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Still, the MPAA’s ratings board initially handed “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2" a provisional R rating, according to the director. The MPAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Condon then wrote the ratings board a letter explaining the necessity of including the beheadings in the film. And, both Summit Entertainment Co-Chairman Rob Friedman and the studio’s president of production, Eric Feig, contacted the oversight board on the picture’s behalf.

What did the MPAA take greatest issue with? The sound effects that accompanied the vampire decapitations. “Their big note was the accumulated intensity of [the film’s critical scene]. In the end, there were very specific suggestions about how we pull back on the sound and the crunching of the head being separated from the neck,” said Condon. “And we did that.”

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The film, which opens Friday, is being released with a PG-13 rating for “sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity,” according to the MPAA’s disclaimer.

No mention of head crunching included.


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