Atlantis holds a PG rating due to scenes of intense action. Coming on the heels of other animated features such as The Iron Giant, The Road to El Dorado, Titan: AE, and Dinosaur (all were PG and all failed to heat up the box office), the team is still confident in their product and that the rating is merely truth in advertising.
Atlantis in Depth
Hahn explained, “Just because somebody else makes an El Dorado or a Battlefield Earth or, you know, some other film that doesn’t fire up at the box office, doesn’t mean we’re not going to come back with our best shot of making a film in a genre that excels because, selfishly speaking, I really believe in the people that we have on the movie and I believe in the strengths of our bench and the people that we have making that movie.” Both The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast were pegged for PG ratings until Disney made some clips to bring the content back down to a more palatable G rating.
In the case of Atlantis, such trims would have compromised the material. “You know, I don’t think we wanted to dink with the movie so much that we would take away what at its core we found entertaining about it,” Hahn said, “and that’s just it’s a fun thrill ride of a movie. And to start unraveling that thread on the sweater we felt was something we didn’t want to do.”
Hahn continued, “What PG means today has changed a little bit. The action sequences are intense. Just like you may not take your toddler on every roller coaster in a theme park, you’re not going to necessarily want to take every kid in the world to see this movie. I’m a parent too, and I really believe in the strengths of parenting and the strength of you know your kid better than I do and I know my kid better than anyone. And I know that there are some four year olds that will adore this movie and some four years olds that will think it’s a little too scary for Johnny or Suzie.”
Pomeroy, a 30-year veteran in animation, added, “We were always conscious and sensitive to the dictates of the story, we served the story first and foremost. Any rating became kind of a by-product of that.”
“But there are moments in previous films that seem twice as intense to me,” Pomeroy said. “I’m even thinking of the battle scene between Ursula and the Prince and Ariel. You’ve got the bow of the ship being rammed right through this woman? That’s pretty graphic!”
Action for the sake of action, though, was still not an option.
There were many ideas left behind simply because they didn’t fit. Wise commented that at one point the film was turning into a “big monster parade” with the characters getting attacked by monsters every five minutes and giant whales living in bubbling mud pits. So, they had to quiet down some of the action. Other scenes, such as trials of earth, wind, and fire had to be brought into moderation in service to the story and the characters.