The fifth Die Hard film will be released this week in the US with an R-rating. The announcement was actually something of a PR win for the film, with the last instalment, Live Free or Die Hard, lambasted for its PG-13 edit.
However, 20th Century Fox have decided to play a different strategy entirely in the UK. Over here, the film will be released with a 12A certificate, meaning all ages can see it.
Even while under 12s need adult supervision for a 12a film, this is not widely considered the kind of rating to keep your kids away from.
At first glance, it could have seemed that the BBFC were simply more tolerant, for want of a better word, than the MPAA. But no.
The info was initially missing, but a new entry has been added to the BBFC's page on the film, making clear that this is not the same film as will be released in the US:
During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission.
Seeing as Fox made the edits prior to their submission there's no record at the BBFC of what they were and how many seconds, or maybe even minutes, are effected. It's a loophole well exploited.
But for clues on specifically what was changed, I read through the BBFC's full statement on this certificate.
For one thing, it seems that Fox have chosen to trim the word motherfu… again. As, it would seem, have I.
Here's that full BBFC explanation of what merits a 12A for this film:
A Good Day To Die Hard is the fifth film in the Die Hard action franchise starring Bruce Willis as New York City cop John McClane. In this film McClane travels to Russia and joins forces with his son to foil a nuclear weapons heist. It is rated 12A for strong language and violence.
The film contains four uses of strong language ('f**k') and a partial use of 'motherf***er', the end of which has been cut short so the implied strong language is not heard in full.
Against a backdrop of explosions, car chases and the destruction of property, there are a number of scenes featuring shootings which occasionally show brief bullet impacts, but there is no focus on blood or injury. In scenes of hand-to-hand combat we see brief punches and kicks, impressionistic rifle butt blows and an implied, but unseen, neck break. Although there are some crunchy sound effects and incidental shots of the heroes with blood on their faces and clothes, no detail of injury is shown.
A Good Day To Die Hard also includes scenes of gun threat to the head and several brief shots of knife-blades as the heroes prepare to defend themselves. There are also passing references to 'doing drugs' and some mild innuendo.
It's very late for the film to be certificated – it will be in cinemas this Thursday – and, as a result, the UK junket for the film has already happened. At least that should cut down on awkward questions levelled at people who didn't have anything to do with these choices. Really – if I had to watch five videos of Jai Courtney explaining that it was nothing to do with him, I'd jump out of a window.
UPDATE: And the BBFC have now belatedly added a section called Precuts Information, offering up the following:
This work was originally seen for advice in an unfinished form. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a '15' certificate but that their preferred '12A' classification could be achieved by making a number of cuts to both language and visuals.
When the finished version of the film was submitted for formal classification, edits had been made to reduce the number of uses of strong language (both 'f**k' and 'motherf***er') and to reduce sequences of bloody violence, including blood sprays when characters are shot in the head, and punches to restrained individuals. The formal submission was consequently rated '12A'.
So that's what we'll be missing when the film screens here in the UK.