Removal of ‘Hatchet 2’ From Theaters Baffles Industry, Fans

Hardcore horror film fans both inside and outside of the film industry celebrated when the unrated Hatchet 2, the sequel to Adam Green’s successful slasher-comedy Hatchet, was all set to play in major national theater chain AMC Theatres.

In a recently unheard of move, the theater chain was set to release the unrated film, which earned an NC-17 rating in front of the MPAA, in over 60 of its locations across the country.

Now, all the happiness that horror fans were feeling at the unprecedented motion distributor Dark Sky Films pulled off has subsided and transformed into anger, as Hatchet 2 has been pulled from theaters after one weekend of play in the United States and Canada.

Unrated films are notoriously ignored among the major national chains and the impact of the MPAA and it’s restrictive ratings have gone so far lately to influence studios into producing PG-13-rated horror films rather than R-rated films in hopes that a wider audience will go see it, thus leading to a bigger box office. Many horror film purists, including myself, think the editing and slashing done to bring a director’s initial vision down to something that will be suitable for a larger audience is hurting the genre as a whole.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when horror fans are ecstatic an untouched and unrated film is given a national release and that they are angry when it inexplicably gets pulled from theaters. Fans were so excited for the news of Hatchet 2‘s success of pushing itself right alongside mainstream cinema that top horror news publication Dread Central even went as far as to initiate a movement of sorts, in which fans would buy tickets for the film even if there were no showings nearby, just to prove a point to the rest of the movie world.

Green, who woke up to find the film pulled from theaters, can’t help but be anything other than surprised and shocked at the outcome. The film brought in $52,604 in its short-lived debut while playing in only 68 theaters, coming out to an average of $774 per theater. But the small amount of money the film is bringing in for theaters can’t be the reason for a film that was given no press and no advertisements outside of what might have been placed around the Internet.

Writing for Huffington Post, Lee Stranahan quoted Green saying that theaters in Canada pulled the film from theaters in fear of being fined for showing an unrated film. This does of course raise the question of why AMC Theatres pulled the film so suddenly with no warning. Just like that, out of thin air, the excitement being Green’s success is thrown out the window.

Even more interesting is the fact that the also unrated I Spit on Your Grave, a remake of Meir Zarchi’s classic film, is set to open in theaters this weekend in a similar but more limited way than Hatchet 2 did. FEARNet reports that the film will still open in major markets and in a number of AMC theaters, so fans should be able to rest easy for now.

The last two weeks can be marked as being both triumph and failure for fans of horror. While Hatchet 2 and I Spit on Your Grave being placed in theaters felt like winning a championship, the loss of Hatchet 2 for whatever reason is a sad thing to see. The precedent set might pave way for more of the same, and surely reopens the door to whether the MPAA has more control and pull in the film industry than it truly should.

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