"Small Soldiers," Big Controversy

Tie-in sponsor Burger King flame-broiling mad about film's PG-13 rating

By Ken Neville Jul 10, 1998 3:30 PMTags
War is heck--and don't Burger King know it.

The fast-food giant, which enlisted to supply tie-in merchandise for the new artillery-packed movie Small Soldiers, is reportedly flame-broiling mad that the flick was deigned violent enough to draw a PG-13 rating.

According to Thursday's Hollywood Reporter, the rating, which advises parents that "some material may be inappropriate" for preteens, caught Burger King executives off guard.

Apparently expecting a milder G or PG rating, the chain spent $10 million to produce 25 million mini-action figures for inclusion in kiddie meals, the trade paper reports.

DreamWorks, the studio behind Small Soldiers, claims it never promised Burger King a PG rating.

Burger King is sticking to its buns, er, guns. A company rep tells the Reporter that the restaurant has never before done a kids' meal promotion for a PG-13 film. Its toy promotions traditionally target two- to eight-year-olds.

In the wake of the PG-13, the chain is busy changing the ad campaign to skew its Small Soldiers stuff to an older crowd. It also has gone the unusual route of including a disclaimer in its kid meals.

"While toys are suitable for children of all ages," the pamphlet reads, "the movie Small Soldiers may contain material that is inappropriate for younger children."

Actually, not all agree the toys are "suitable for children of all ages." In an intriguing twist, it seems some parents have taken issue with the BK-supplied action figures, not thrilled with the sight of plastic bazookas and bows and arrows.

Reportedly, at least one Burger King franchise has allowed concerned parents to swap the Rambo-esque Small Soldiers for the more grounded likes of Mr. Potato Head.

Small Soldiers, about toys that come alive and wreak havoc on a small town after being inadvertently equipped with military chips, opens in theaters today. The gadget-heavy movie stars the late Phil Hartman.