"The studio released the film with an R rating in America, very rare for productions that cost as much as this one – somewhere in the vicinity of US$150m. From a financial point of view it is considered a given that releasing an R-rated movie, rather than editing it down to a more widely palatable PG, significantly impacts performance at the domestic box office. Potentially by tens of millions of dollars.It would be an interesting academic exercise to see the PG version of the film, what exactly was lost (although I expect we can probably guess). There have been plenty of examples of films having been compromised for ratings purposes, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire notably in the UK which had plenty of blood shots removed for theatrical release. Sometimes you just have to let films be films.
Says Miller: two versions of Fury Road were completed and screened to test audiences. “I’m happy to go on the record as saying we tested both versions and it was very clear that the bland version scored a lot less across all demographics than the version you see,” he says.
“To the great credit of the studio they realised if we decreased its intensity and took away a lot of its key imagery it would basically take the life out of the film. It was the studio that said if we compromise the film too much to get a PG, we won’t have a film at all. I thought that was very brave."
Film The Guardian's interview with George Miller has an interesting titbit about the preview process of the best action film of the year (sorry Joss):