After weeks of public sparring, the MPAA has lowered the rating for “Bully” from R to PG-13 after the Weinstein Co. removed three f-bombs from the documentary.
“I feel completely vindicated with this resolution,” helmer Lee Hirsch said in a statement announcing the news.
MPAA will grant the new rating in time for “Bully’s” April 13 expansion to 55 markets. TWC unspooled the pic unrated March 27.
The fight over the docu’s rating became a flashpoint in national dialogue on bullying during the past few weeks. Katy Butler, a 17-year-old Michigan high school student, gathered signatures to petition the MPAA to change its ruling, while the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) featured the film on its website.
“We are pleased the Weinstein Co. respected the rules and processes of the voluntary ratings system by editing and resubmitting ‘Bully’ in order to receive the PG-13 rating,” said Patrick Corcoran, director of media and research for the National Assn. of Theater Owners.
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After TWC threatened to release the film unrated, NATO said in a letter that it would urge its members to treat “Bully” as a normal unrated film, which usually equals the treatment given to films with NC-17 ratings. At the time, Weinstein COO David Glasser called the letter “inflammatory and disrespectful.”
TWC also threatened to take a “leave of absence” from the former (TWC is not an MPAA member but abides by its rules to use its ratings services). Distrib even consulted legal powerhouses David Boies and Ted Olson, famous for challenging California’s gay marriage ban in federal court.
All of this has generated significant publicity for the docu, which opened at five domestic locations, earning a solid $23,294 per-screen average and a total $116,472 three-day take. Theater chains were split over whether to release the pic at all, as each exhibitor can choose whether to unspool unrated films.
“Bully” follows the lives of five victims of bullying and their families, including two families who lost bullied children to suicide.