Dune, Halloween Kills and More in This Week's MPAA Ratings Bulletin

By Chris Kavan - 12/09/20 at 11:08 AM CT

Back again and this time with some actual big movies to talk about but before that, there's something else - and not the box office. No, the biggest news coming out is that Warner Bros. has announced their entire slate of 20201 films will debut on HBO Max day and date with their cinematic debuts. They will play for one month on the streaming service before playing exclusively in theaters but the news has sent huge waves through the industry. And things really chaotic right now from news that Warner Bros. only gave 90 minutes notice to talent and even people in their own company - to Tenet director Christopher Nolan calling out his own company - to AMC kicking and screaming about the deal in general. But perhaps the biggest hurdle to the plan was the response of Legendary, who financed about 75% of two of the biggest films: Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong. First, Legendary was blocked from selling Godzilla vs. Kong to Netflix (in a deal reportedly worth up to $250 million) by... Warner Bros. Now they are threatening to sue Warner Bros. over these two films and block them from HBO Max. All in all, it's a very messy affair right now... but if it means I can watch Dune from the comfort of my own home, I will fully take advantage of that.

In non-Warner Bros. news perhaps the other big story is the backlash to Paul W. Anderson's Monster Hunter in China after a short joke was taken as an insult to Chinese culture, leading to swift backlash (even on the gaming side of things) and film being taken down entirely. With the U.S. off the table for any significant box office, losing China is a crushing blow but also shows the enormous influence China commands.

In terms of box office, The Croods: A New Age retained its top position and added $4.4 million, crossing the $20 million mark in the process with a new $20.3 million total and remaining one of the few success stories out of the Covid-era box office. It scored nearly a $2000-per-screen average - no other film even hit $600 per-theater as the struggles continue. The biggest new release was Half Brothers from Focus, which bowed with $700,000 in second place. The romance All My Life also opened - taking in $370,300 in fourth place.

MPAA Official Logo

Onto the ratings bulletin itself, which has two major films. Dune itself, my personal most anticipated film of next year and also Halloween Kills, following the success of the 2018 re-re-re-launch of the Halloween franchise (featuring a truly badass Jamie Lee Curtis in full-on Linda Hamilton T2 mode).

I have no qualms saying that Frank Herbert's Dune is my favorite sci-fi novel and many would say if it's not the best, certainly among the best. And while I also don't think that David Lynch's 1984 was that bad, it was a critical and commercial disappointment. While we have had some mini-series adaptations as well, Denis Villeneuve's Dune looks like it will be the de facto version and the trailer has me chomping at the bit to see it. Villeneuve is a perfect fit, having directed the (underrated) Blade Runner 2049, the alien mystery The Arrival and the action-heavy, yet deeply satisfying Sicario. The man can mix drama, action and emotion in equal measure and I think is up to the task of adapting a highly-regarded sci-fi epic. The plot, without getting to bogged down, follows the Atreides family - Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) who have been assigned to watch over the planet Arrakis - home to the most precious resource in the galaxy, the Spice Melange, which is responsible for several advances, including interstellar travel. But the duplicitous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) plots to overthrow their regime and will kill anyone who stands in his way, led by his bloodthirsty nephew Glossu 'Beast' Rabban (Dave Bautista). Despite having support from the likes of swordmaster Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and weapons master Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin), the insidious plan forces Paul on the run, where he finds himself on an epic journey, meeting up with a local Fremen clan led by Stilgar (Javier Bardem) and finding a connection with Chani (Zendaya) all of which will lead to a likewise epic destiny. And I'm not even getting into the stuff featuring the Bene Gesserit, Mentats or giant sandworms. And yes, that was a very condensed version - this film is going to be a lot of information all at once, but I'm ready. And, should things get back to normalcy by October, I also have no qualms about watching this in the theater (as I think this is a film that would benefit greatly from the experience) but I also won't mind watchign it from home - if the whole thing doesn't fall apart. In any case, Dune is on my must-watch list and I am excited. Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material.

The other big film getting the ratings treatment is Halloween Kills, the follow-up to the quite popular (nearly $160 million domestic - over $255 million worldwide) 2018 version of Halloween. Trying to figure out the timeline of things at this point is kind of messy, but the 2018 version ignores pretty much all the sequels, as well as Rob Zombie's reboot - and is a direct continuation of the original film. Set 40 years after the events of Halloween, Michael Myers has been in an institution while Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has become paranoid and an alcoholic, still suffering from major PTSD leading her to become estranged from her own daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) while forming a better bond with granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). But it turns out all her paranoid preparation and gun training are put to good use when Myers returns, leaving plenty of bodies in his wake. The film was not only the highest-grossing Halloween film, but also the highest-grossing slasher film (unadjusted) beating the record previously held by Scream. Halloween Kills follows the events of Halloween where Myers was trapped, seemingly burned alive, but The Shape isn't going to go down that easy and the cat and mouse between Strode and Myers lives on - and certainly a lot more people are going to die. Of note is that the two children Laurie babysat on the fateful Halloween night are being brought back as adults with Tommy Doyle being played by Anthony Michael Hall and Lindsey Wallace being played by Kyle Richards with Robert Longstreet also joining the cast as Lonnie Elam, the father of Allyson's ex-boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold). I'm sure one/all of these characters will wind up dead by the end of the film - calling it now. Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use.

Those are the big films for the week, but be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:


Rated R for language.


Rated R for pervasive language, some violence, sexual references and brief drug use.


Rated R for language including some sexual references, and violence.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some disturbing images and suggestive material.


Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use.


Rated R for some bloody violent images and sexuality/nudity.


Rated R for pervasive language, and sexual content.


Rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and brief strong language.


Rated PG-13 for strong language and some crude material.


Rated G


Rated PG-13 for strong language, some sexual content, brief war violence, disturbing images, and smoking.


Rated R for language throughout, drug content and some crude sexual references.


Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content including depictions of torture.


Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence and bloody images, drug material and language.


Rated R for language.


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