Actors, singers, politicians, educators and high school kids have been protesting the R rating given to the anti-bullying documentary “Bully,” but the ratings board would not budge. So, instead of folding, frequently outspoken Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein has decided to release the film unrated.
“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real,” director Lee Hirsch said of the multiple f-bombs that landed the film its restricted rating, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theaters to let them in.”
The film depicts the painful results of school bullying and follows several families who’ve been impacted by bullying. But because it was given an R rating, it cannot be screened in middle and high schools.
Weinstein began a public appeal of the rating last month, making the case that it would freeze out the very teens and others under 18 who most need to hear its powerful message.
The rating war inspired 17-year-old Katy Butler to start a viral petition to get the decision changed. Not only did her movement win her a GLAAD Media Award over the weekend, but it also drew nearly 500,000 signatures and support from the likes of Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Johnny Depp and Ellen DeGeneres.
Though unrated films are often shut out of many theater chains out of respect for the ratings board, the CEO of the AMC chain, Gerry Lopez, said he will allow certain theaters in his circuit to screen the movie. “Bully” opens on March 30 in New York and Los Angeles.
The movie has gotten another unlikely partner in the form of computing giant Microsoft. According to the Los Angeles Times, Microsoft has agreed to use its Bing search engine to promote “Bully” with a TV and social media ad campaign.