Jonathan Short, Associated Press
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner arriving for the UK premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1," at the Westfield Stratford City, Stratford, London.

When “Breaking Dawn — Part 2” hits theaters late Thursday night, it will do so with a PG-13 rating due to “sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity.”

The fifth and final installment of “The Twilight Saga” very nearly earned an R rating due the graphic vampire beheadings integral to the film’s plot. (Note: Decapitation is the only way to kill a vampire in “The Twilight Saga.”)

After speaking to “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” director Bill Condon, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday, “The MPAA's ratings board initially handed ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2’ a provisional R rating, according to the director. … What did the MPAA take greatest issue with? The sound effects that accompanied the vampire decapitations. ‘(The MPAA’s) big note was the accumulated intensity of [the film's critical scene]. In the end, there were very specific suggestions about how we pull back on the sound and the crunching of the head being separated from the neck,’ said Condon. ‘And we did that.’"

The website Movieline offered context as to why any rating above PG-13 could be very detrimental to how “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” performs at the box office: “An R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (would) have caused quite a stir and conundrums in Twi-hard Land, which still counts quite a large crowd of teens among its ranks. … The ‘Restricted: Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian’ would smack of potential box office blues for a franchise riding on a gangbuster turn-out and a final cash infusion for Summit, the franchise's distributor.”

This isn’t the first time a “Twilight” film has flirted with being rated-R. “Breaking Dawn – Part 1” — also directed by Condon and filmed during the same six-month period as “Part 2,” but released to theaters a year ago — initially drew a provisional R rating due to a steamy honeymoon scene involving stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

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Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at [email protected] or 801-236-6051.