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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Hollywood is a town that thrives on publicity, so much so that it feels at times like I know more about certain overexposed stars than I do my own family members. And yet within that world, there are still a few power players that manage to remain (relatively) in the shadows. Harvey Weinstein is one of the most successful producers working today, with hits like Pulp Fiction and the classic Miramax catalog, not to mention credit on other projects like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He has prominence and influence matched by few other industry vets, and yet he’s maintained such careful control over his public image that not much is known about the “real” Harvey Weinstein.

Fascinated by this widely recognized yet secretive figure, documentarian Barry Avrich set out to uncover the true story behind the industry giant in a documentary titled Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project. Sounds interesting, right? Unfortunately, the first trailer isn’t very enticing. Watch it after the jump.

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Wes Craven Says ‘Scream 5′ Likely to Happen

Scream 4 was enough of a box-office disappointment when it opened this spring that it seemed to curtail all the rumors about it being the first of a new Scream trilogy. But like its plucky heroine Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the Scream franchise isn’t one to die easily. The fourth installment ultimately ended up pulling in about $97 million worldwide on a $40 million budget, apparently enough that director Wes Craven is now saying that a Scream 5 is very likely to happen. Read his comments after the jump.

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When last we left Mike McDermott he was in a New York City cab, heading down Broadway, on his way to Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker. The year was 1998 and Miramax’s poker movie Rounders, starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton, made a paltry $23 million at the box office. Fortunately for us, the movie was ahead of its time. Soon after the film’s release, the world of poker changed drastically. The invention of card cameras and the 2003 $2.5 million Main Event victory of everyman Chris Moneymaker, who cites Rounders as one of his biggest influences, made the game of poker boom in a huge way. In 1999, the year that Damon’s Rounders character would have played in the World Series Main Event, 393 people competed and the winner made $1 million. Seven years later, 8,773 competed in the same event with the winner taking home $12 million.

So though Rounders was a theatrical bust, the poker boom made it a home video smash, grossing $70 million in profit for Miramax. The film was recently on a list of catalog titles Miramax was hoping to sequelize along with The Weinstein Company and this week Harvey Weinstein himself, a producer of the original movie and former head of the studio that released it, said he’s still trying to get a sequel to Rounders made. Read More »

In retrospect, over a decade removed from its previous installment and plagued with lukewarm reviews, maybe it’s not that big a surprise Scream 4 was a box office bomb. The first three films each made around $100 million but Scream 4, released 11 years after the third film, has so far grossed under $40 million. Still, Harvey Weinstein, who has executive produced all the films in the franchise, seems confident that we’ll get a Wes Craven-directed Scream 5 in the future. And after that Scream 4 ending, we really deserve it. Read his quotes after the jump. Read More »

Has Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark taught us nothing? Sure, the show making money (for now) but one would think all of the negative reactions would make producers wary of adapting popular properties that need extensive wire work for the stage. Not Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The New York Observer reports the pair are actively developing musicals based upon Finding Neverland, Chocolat, Cinema Paradiso and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The furthest along is Finding Neverland, which already has music written by Grey Gardens team Scott Frankel and Michael Korie and investors lining up. The 2004 film was directed by Marc Forster and starred Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the man who created Peter Pan. Read more after the break. Read More »

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April Fools? The Weinstein Company announced today that the PG-13 version of big Oscar winner The King’s Speech will open on April 1. The film was originally rated R for a string of expletives uttered by Colin Firth as his character, King George VI, attempts to break through his stutter. Because violence is OK but a couple instances of the word ‘fuck’ aren’t, that was enough to land the film with an R.

When this cut goes out to theaters it will be on 1000 screens, replacing the R-rated version that is currently being shown. So if you want to see the original cut of the film on the big screen, you have eight more days, counting today. Deadline reports that the PG-13 cut involves replacing all the instances of ‘fuck’ with the word ‘shit.’ Otherwise, it is exactly the same as the R-rated version. April Fool’s indeed. Wonder if director (sorry, Best Director) Tom Hooper still disapproves of this move? I’d expect so. The press release is after the break. Read More »

Harvey Weinstein has created a new, more family-friendly PG-13 cut of The King’s Speech, but the film’s director Tom Hooper, the proud owner of a shiny new Best Director Oscar, hasn’t yet seen the cut. Within the context of creative enterprise this is an interesting representation of the cross purposes of storytelling and business, but after the resounding endorsement of the current version of the film (four Oscars, over $100m domestic box office) is the whole idea of a different edit just a weird coda to the film’s success story? Read More »

The Weinstein Company found itself embroiled in two battles with the MPAA last year. One was over the film Blue Valentine, which was given an NC-17 for one sex scene, and the rating was successfully appealed down to an R without edits being made to the film.

The other was for The King’s Speech, given an R for profanity, most of which is uttered in one sequence where King George VI (Colin Firth) attempts to break through his stutter. That appeal was unsuccessful, and the film’s R rating stuck. But when the film was nominated for many Oscars, the company said it might edit the film to get a PG-13 in order to capitalize on awards momentum. Now the edited version of the film has been given a PG-13. Read More »