Posted on Monday, April 2nd, 2012 by Angie Han
The battle between The Weinstein Co. and the MPAA over the rating for Lee Hirsch‘s Bully could finally be winding to a close, as sources claim that The Weinstein Co. is preparing a PG-13 cut of the anti-bullying doc after all. The unrated, unedited version of the film opened in five New York and Los Angeles-area theaters this past weekend to solid box office numbers, and is expected to roll out to 23 more markets on April 13 with the new cut. More details after the jump.
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OK, this is getting absurd. First, let’s recap. Lee Hirsch made a documentary called Bully that takes on the issue of bullying in schools, spurred in part by the suicides of several kids who were victims of bullying. The Weinstein Company is distributing the film, but found the picture tagged with an R rating by the MPAA, thanks to scenes in which kids talk like kids. (Read: there’s some dirty words in there.)
Last week TWC appealed the rating and lost by one vote. At that point Harvey Weinstein threatened to break from the MPAA entirely. Harvey, Hirsch and others have continued to campaign for the film, which they want to be able to show in schools. A young woman named Katy Butler — herself a victim of bullying — also launched her own petition on Change.org to ask the MPAA to give the film a PG-13 rating.
Now, as Harvey talks about releasing the film unrated, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) is threatening to have association members treat the movie as if it is rated NC-17. Rarely is the argument over the release of a film so ironically captured by the film’s title as it is here. 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 »
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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?
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