Just a week after announcing that it would be released unrated in a protest to the R rating slapped on it by the ratings board, the Weinstein Co. said on Thursday that an edited version of “Bully” will hit theaters with a PG-13 rating.
The anti-bullying documentary has unleashed a fierce back-and-forth between legendarily pugnacious Weinstein boss Harvey Weinstein and the board, which gave the film the restricted rating on the basis of multiple four-letter words heard in the film.
According to the Associated Press, the edited PG-13 version will be released on April 13 with the blessing of the Motion Picture Association of America. The MPAA originally tagged the film with an R rating and refused to change that ruling after the Weinstein Co. appealed.
Movie producer Weinstein argued that the restricted rating for the film that depicts the often-disastrous results of school bullying would keep out the very audience that most needs to see it. An R restricts kids under the age of 17 from seeing the movie without an accompanying adult and Weinstein said that it would not allow him to screen the film in middle and high schools, where it could potentially have the biggest impact. The Weinstein Co. said three uses of an expletive were removed to earn the PG-13 designation.
Weinstein began a public appeal of the rating last month, tapping famed attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, who were behind overturning California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.
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 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 last week that he would allow certain theaters in his circuit to screen the movie. “Bully” opened on March 30 in New York and Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times reported that director Lee Hirsch said he was satisfied with the resolution. “This was about drawing the line but not being utterly unreasonable,” he said.
“What’s absolutely relevant is the scene that we retained. There was one [obscenity in another scene] I didn’t want to give up. But I didn’t want to hold back all the groups that wanted to see the movie, Boy and Girl Scout groups and school groups, that wouldn’t be able to go if we stayed unrated.”
Hirsch was referring to a pivotal, controversial scene on a school bus in which the f-bomb is used three times against a bullied student. This marks the first time the MPAA has allowed a movie with more than two uses of the f-word to escape an R rating.
The PG-13 version of the movie will open in 115 theaters next weekend.