Everyone has something to say in today’s Sequel Bits, whether it’s Star Trek 2 co-writer Alex Kurtzman on the magneticism of Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Englund on Freddy Krueger’s backstory, or Frank Spotnitz on the possibility of another X-Files movie. Also after the jump:

  • Details on the new (in-canon) video game sequel to Aliens
  • James Cameron and Jon Landau have big plans for the Avatar franchise
  • The MPAA stamps Piranha 3DD with a well deserved R rating

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There’s been a strange turn of events in the tale of The Weinstein Company’s upcoming documentary Bully. The latest info was the film, which was in danger of being saddled with an R-rating the studio deemed unfair, would be released unrated and uncut. Normally, that would mean the film could not play in most major movie chains as they don’t play unrated or NC-17 rated movies. However, in the case of Bully, AMC Theaters will allow minors in to see the film as long as they have written or verbal permission from a parent. Cinemark, on the other hand, will not show the film. [Update: And Regal, will treat it as an R-rated film.] There’s more after the jump. Read More »

‘Bully’ to be Released Unedited, and Unrated

Here’s the latest update in the battle between Harvey Weinstein and Bully director Lee Hirsch on one side and the MPAA on the other. Weinstein and Hirsch have petitioned the MPAA to lower Bully‘s rating from R to PG-13; the film was rated R solely for the use of foul language by kids filmed for the documentary.

Weinstein petitioned the MPAA to change the rating, hoping that doing so would (he said) help get kids to see the movie. He cited the ratings change for the Iraq War documentary Gunner Palace, released in 2004, which was also originally rated R for language. In the case of Gunner Palace, the MPAA did change the rating, and it went out as a PG-13 movie.

In the case of Bully the MPAA refused to budge, and now The Weinstein Company will release it, unedited, as an unrated film. So will the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) make good on a promise to treat it as NC-17 and not let any minors in at all? Read More »

The MPAA began, in slightly different form, to act in part as a tool for the early Hollywood studios. But it also quickly became a self-regulating arm of the film industry, an attempt to pacify those who accused movies of moral lapses without letting control over the business pass to a government agency. The MPAA has seen its share of controversy over many decades of existence, but in the last ten years has seemed more and more out of touch with common standards. Cite, if you will, the board’s inflexible approach towards ‘foul’ language, or a permissive attitude towards violence that contrasts with a severe distaste for sex, especially if the film in question is the product of a major studio.

Harvey Weinstein has had several battles with the MPAA in recent years, and the latest is over the documentary Bully. The film, a trailer for which we showed you yesterday, was rated R for scenes in which kids speak like kids do — that is, with some bad language. Weinstein appealed the R rating today, and lost by a single vote. Now he is threatening to do something that perhaps only Harvey could get away with: a wholesale break from the MPAA.

Update: The MPAA has released a statement in response to Weinstein’s threat. Read that below.

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Here’s the trailer for Bully, a documentary from director Lee Hirsch (NextWorld, Amandala!) about the ways that schoolkids and their families deal with bullying. We’ve seen several cases in the past few years where bullied kids have taken their own lives, or attempted to, and this film seems intended to address the issue both as an expose and a means of support to those who are bullied.

There is a minor point of controversy, however, as the version of Bully submitted to the MPAA was given an R rating for language, and Harvey Weinstein is trying to appeal that rating before the film’s March release. Read More »

Briefly: It is probably shallow to become more interested in a movie when the rating is R rather than PG-13. But then, the action/comedy/romance This Means War looks fairly shallow, so my slightly elevated interest in the movie might be a perfect match for it. The film stars Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as best friends who are also partners in the CIA. But their friendship is torn asunder when they fall for the same woman, played by Reese Witherspoon.

While Fox was hoping to get the film on screens with a PG-13 rating, the MPAA gave it an R, and upon appeal the board upheld the rating. Why is the film R? Does Chris Pine’s head explode? Nope — it is just R for “some sexual content.” Oh, that repressed MPAA! I can’t imagine the sex in the movie being all that crazy, but we’ll see what the story really is when the film is released on Tuesday, February 14. Or, the Valentine’s Day release was the plan; now that the film will go out with an R, perhaps it will be pushed back tpo the 17th once again.

UPDATE: Deadline now reports that “a couple of racy jokes” were cut, and the film was granted a PG-13 rating.

Check out the trailer again after the break. Read More »

MPAA Blasts Websites Planning SOPA Protest Blackouts

Tomorrow the main pages of Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites will go dark to protest support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives which is so wide-ranging in effect that it threatens to curb not only piracy and illegal activity, but the method of information use which characterizes the internet. (There is also the associated Protect IP act in the Senate.)

One big target of SOPA is any site that operates like The Pirate Bay. That is, sites outside the US that host or point to intellectual property copyrighted in the US. Others are foreign sites that scrape and steal content — sites such as a few that take /Film-written content on a daily basis, for example.

If SOPA passes, however, the power to shut down web sites in the US will be unprecedented. The US attorney general could shut down websites by asking courts to order ISPs to block access to them from within the US. And the fine print creates power to block sites — even legitimate sites — suspected or accused of copyright infringement, or those that link to sites that infringe copyright. That block could go into action very quickly, with little if any warning to the website.

Under SOPA, sites like /Film could well end up not being able to exist. Any one complaint about how we have used a video clip or song could shut us down. Potentially, even a scoop about an upcoming film could result in destructive action. The indiscriminate power created by SOPA is the reason for the protests by many internet giants.

One of the big supporters of SOPA, however, is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA), which likes to blame piracy for a wide variety of industry ills. Today, in what seems like a hot-headed move, MPAA chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd issued a statement blasting companies planning SOPA protests. Read it after the break. Read More »

‘Shame’ Officially Gets NC-17 Rating

We knew this was likely to happen, and now the MPAA has spoken: Steve McQueen‘s Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, has earned the film industry’s most dubious badge of honor, the NC-17. The rating was delivered for “some explicit sexual content,” designating that no one under 17 is to be admitted under any circumstances. In years past this might have doomed the film as a commercial failure or led to recuts, but things are a bit different with Shame. Read More »

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