“Bully,” the documentary about the realities of bullying for kids in America, is taking the rare route of an unrated release, the Weinstein Co. announced today.
The film’s rating has been a battleground ever since it was given an R for language by the Motion Picture Association of America. Co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and others have been arguing that such a rating would work against its goal of reaching teens and educating parents, teachers and school officials about the impact of bullying.
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Back in February, the company narrowly lost an appeal to the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating from R to PG-13.
Although most movies are rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, it’s a voluntary system. Releasing films without an MPAA rating can have business consequences, which is why major studios rarely use that approach. Unrated films can have a tougher time being released in movie theaters because the designation often indicates graphic content, such as extreme violence.
In the case of “Bully,” however, being unrated shouldn’t be a stumbling block to a wide release. In fact, prior to this announcement, the CEO of AMC Theaters, Gerry Lopez, had signed Butler’s petition and had said he would show the movie.
Efforts to lower the rating had been embraced by high-profile celebrities like Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. One of the biggest campaigns was an online petition with more than 450,000 signatures launched by Ann Arbor high school student Katy Butler. On the petition’s site at Change.org, 17-year-old Butler wrote about experiencing bullying herself and having her finger broken after being taunted at school.
Butler’s support was mentioned in the Weinstein Co.’s press release about “Bully” unrated status. Her petition has gotten endorsements from celebrities like lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, NFL quarterback Drew Brees, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, and singer Demi Lovato.
“Bully” will be released at select theaters on Friday and is scheduled to open in metro Detroit on April 13.
Contact JULIE HINDS: 313-222-6427 or firstname.lastname@example.org