In response to yesterday’s story about about an alleged debate within Lionsgate about whether to release Sylvester Stallone‘s The Expendables with an R or a PG-13 rating, I was informed earlier today by a Lionsgate rep that the action pic “has always been conceived as an R-rated film, as Stallone himself has confirmed to other press outlets throughout the filmmaking process. There is not a PG-13 version of the film in the works, nor has there ever been. The MPAA R rating is official and final.”

Okay, fine…but it wasn’t always this cut and dried, at least as far as Expendables producer Avi Lerner has been concerned.

Last June Lerner told UGO reporter Rene Rosa that “there will be both PG-13 and R-rated cuts for The Expendables and they will test each to decide which to release. The Expendables is costing about $80 million dollars, thanks to so many real explosions, the star cast, and everything else that goes into making an action flick. The studio wants this film to be a big hit and Avi is hoping to turn it into a franchise — including whoever doesn’t die in the first film in subsequent films.”

In a 4.21.10 EW interview, it was stated that Stallone “promises a hard R. After all, just look at the cast, he says. ‘These guys are born hard R!'”

If you ask me Stallone’s quote indicated he was prevailing over a different point of view. He obviously won the argument, but Lerner was on the record about the PG-13 vs. R cuts, in part because of the experience of R-rated Kick Ass taking in only $47.5 million as of 5.30.10. Lerner wants the biggest possible opening for The Expendables, and so he naturally had thoughts about the R rating possibly interfering with this.