‘Bully’ solid despite ratings fight

Weinstein film pockets strong per-screen take

After a heated battle with the MPAA, the Weinstein Co. unspooled unrated docu “Bully” at five domestic locations, scoring a solid $23,294 per-screen average, and a total $116,472 three-day take.

“Bully” originally received an R rating from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, and despite a sizable fan-made petition that urged the board to give the docu, which chronicles the effects of bullying on five schoolchildren and their families, a PG-13, Weinstein decided to launch the pic unrated when the MPAA refused to relent.

It’s was a gutsy decision: Most exhibs treat an unrated pic as if it were an NC-17 — which means some won’t book it.

Then, in an unusual move, on April 5 Weinstein announced that “aided by the guidance” of attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, MPAA had lowered the R rating to a PG-13, just in time for the film’s April 13 expansion to 55 markets.

“It’s a tough subject,” admits Weinstein distrib head Erik Lomis, “but for the most part, people stood up and recognized that this is a picture that deserves to be seen.”

The film, when rated R, played best to teen auds, with 91% rating the film highly. And while 18-and-under auds repped only 10% of the bow, Lomis says any positive reaction among teens is encouraging.

The MPAA made an exception by allowing a film to be re-rated before the usual 90-day period required for such a change.

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