Today Warner Bros held a press day for the Blu-Ray release of the Watchmen Director’s Cut and I managed to finagle some one on one time with Zack Snyder. While talking about Watchmen‘s disappointing performance at the box office, I asked him if this made him gun-shy about trying more complex, smarter films in the future. While he scoffed at that idea, he did mention that he was open to making his next film, Sucker Punch (about a girl locked in an insane asylum who retreats into a fantasy world where she comes up with an escape plan), PG-13, which may be a reaction to the economic realities of R rated action films.

But before you freak out thinking that this means Snyder will be toning his movie – which had been previously described as a hard R – down, the director insists he can get away with what he wants in a PG-13. ‘If you can make Taken PG-13, you can make this movie PG-13,‘ he told me. ‘That’s what
I believe. Because it’s more fantastic. No one really dies in the movie.’

He’s got a point – there’s plenty of violence in the Lord of the Rings films that would have gotten the films an R rating if it were humans being hewed to bits. Return of the King in particular seems to be right up on the edge of what’s acceptable, and I imagine that edge is where Snyder will live with Sucker Punch.

‘I think Sucker Punch is a smart movie,’ he said. ‘It absolutely is challenging, and it’s fucking hardcore. [A]t the end she gets… it’s dark! But it’s fucking actiony like
nobody’s business. We hope the action we’re creating is off the charts,
and it’s not stupid.’

That action, while it may be against fantasy creatures (or WWI soldiers, Snyder revealed. The imaginary worlds seem to be all over the place in a very cool way), is rooted in reality. Says Snyder, ‘I like fight choreography and I like being able to see what’s happening
in action. When the girls are fighting, [like] they’re on their way to kill a
baby dragon, they’ve killed all of these orc-like creatures and they’re
entering a door [and] it’s this classic, real Navy SEAL style room clearing.
They have machine guns but they’re fighting mythic creatures,
impossible creatures. The hand to hand stuff is all brutal, because
Damon [Caro] did all the [fights] in Bourne and it has that vibe to it.’