Weinstein Co Gets PG-13 Rating For ‘Bully’ Documentary Without Cutting Harsh Scene

The Weinstein Company and the MPAA have come to terms on a PG-13 rating for Bully, the timely documentary that would have been hamstrung by an R rating for objectionable language. TWC released it without a rating, which didn’t help matters. The compromise is that the film is shy a few cuss words, but retains a chilling scene depicting bullies in action. And the brouhaha has given the film a ton of free publicity and attention that documentaries rarely receive.

A statement by MPAA ratings board chairman Joan Graves said this afternoon that The Weinstein Company resubmitted an edited version of Bully, and the board gave the new version a PG-13 “for intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language – all involving kids.” Graves stated “the ratings system has worked exactly as it is supposed to” and emphasized the same process is available to all filmmakers. The MPAA has also granted The Weinstein Company a waiver eliminating the usual 90-day window required between the release of two differently-rated versions of the same movie, which allows TWC to release the PG-13 Bully now.

April 5, 2012 – New York, NY – The Weinstein Company (TWC), aided by the guidance and consultation from attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, announced today that the MPAA has lowered the R rating, given for some language, for BULLY to a PG-13 in time for the film’s April 13th expansion to 55 markets. The scene that has been at the forefront of the battle with the MPAA, the intense scene in the film that shows teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus, has been left fully intact and unedited. BULLY director Lee Hirsch felt editing the scene was not an option, and subsequently refused to do so, since it is too important to the truth and integrity behind the film. Also a victory is the exception the MPAA made by allowing the film to be released with the new rating before 90 days, which is the length of time their policy states a film must wait to be in theaters after a rating change to avoid confusion or inconvenience for moviegoers.
This decision by the MPAA is a huge victory for the parents, educators, lawmakers, and most importantly, children, everywhere who have been fighting for months for the appropriate PG-13 rating without cutting some of the most sensitive moments. Three uses of the ‘F word’ were removed from other scenes, which ultimately persuaded the MPAA to lower the rating. Hirsch made the documentary with the intent to give an uncensored, real-life portrayal of what 13 million children suffer through every year.
The new rating, which came about with the great support from MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, grants the schools, organizations and cities all around the country who are lined up and ready to screen BULLY, including the National Education Association and the Cincinnati School District, the opportunity to share this educational tool with their children.
“Senator Dodd is a hero for championing this cause, and the MPAA showed great courage by not cutting the scene everyone has been fighting to keep,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “Senator Dodd’s support gives voice to the millions of children who suffer from
bullying, and on behalf of TWC, the filmmakers, the families in the film and the millions of children and parents who will now see this film, I thank him for recognizing that this very real issue cannot afford to go unnoticed.”
“I feel completely vindicated with this resolution,” said Hirsch. “While I retain my belief that PG-13 has always been the appropriate rating for this film, as reinforced by Canada’s rating of a PG, we have today scored a victory from the MPAA. The support and guidance we have received throughout this process has been incredible, from the more than half a million people who signed Katy Butler’s petition, to members of Congress, Governor Mike Huckabee and the many celebrities and others who raised their voices to express deeply felt support for a film that can inspire millions. The scene that mattered remains untouched and intact, which is a true sign that we have won this battle. With an array of great partners, a fabulous educator’s guide and extensive online tools, we can now bring this film unhindered, to youth and adults across our country.”
Building support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act is the next step in this movement for change. Already a meeting has been set with Senator Bob Casey to discuss how he can help. Lawmakers and politicians are being sought out to back the efforts of anti-bullying supporters everywhere in creating legislation that will comprehensively address the issues of bullying and harassment.
“If we can’t get the Safe Schools Improvement Act passed, we’ll be visiting the home states of each lawmaker until it does,” said Katy Butler, the 17 year old Michigan high school student who rallied petitioners on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower BULLY’s rating. “On behalf of the more than half a million supporters who joined me on Change.org in petitioning the MPAA, I want to express how grateful I am not only to the MPAA for lowering the rating without cutting a vital scene, but to all of the people who used their voices to put a national spotlight on this movie and its mission.”
For the hundreds of organizations and individuals partnering with the film, the rating news means more screenings for more children.
Said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, “The changing of the rating for BULLY from R to PG-13 will enable many more young people to see this film. NEA applauds the Motion Picture Association of America and the producers for the PG-13 rating. Every teenage student should have the opportunity to see this powerful documentary about a problem that still haunts our schools. NEA also salutes 17-year-old Katy Butler and the other young activists whose online petition drive led to having the rating for BULLY reconsidered.”
After Weinstein’s and BULLY teen Alex Libby’s appeal in February to the MPAA for a PG-13 rating was denied by one vote, TWC and Hirsch chose to move forward with releasing the film unrated last weekend allowing theaters the chance to use their discretion when admitting children to the theater. BULLY leads all non-fiction films so far for 2012 with its strong opening weekend attendance.

Comments (37)

  • Way to go Harvey!!!

    Suck it MPAA… hey, at least I didn’t use the “F” word.

    Comment by Way to go — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:10pm PDT  
    • Suck it MPAA? The MPAA got exactly what they requested from the start: that the language be reduced. Harvey’s trying to make out like, “We refused to censor the violence, because we’re just GOOD PEOPLE!” when we all know (except you, apparently) that the violence was never in question. The MPAA refused a PG-13 rating because there were, I believe, 6 uses of the F-word. Harvey threw his fit to get free press, then eventually did what he’d always planned to do: cut 3 F-words and secure a PG-13 rating, then make it look like he didn’t do exactly what the MPAA told him to.

      Honestly, though, at least he’s intelligent enough to come up with these bulls–t PR scams. People like you — who fall for them hook, line, and sinker — on the other hand…

      Comment by Bob Louise — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 6:20pm PDT  
  • This film should be shown in schools everywhere and hopefully now it will!

    Comment by DLA — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:13pm PDT  
  • I think it is funny that Harvey got his rating by bullying people, and probably doesn’t see the irony.

    Comment by Funny — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:15pm PDT  
    • Very true

      Comment by Stan — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 5:47pm PDT  
    • Exactly which members of the MPAA were physically abused by Weinstein? And which of them became suicidal and had to leave their jobs as a result of Weinstein’s actions? Oh that’s right . . . none of them.

      Comment by Chris — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 7:47pm PDT  
  • Unbelievable… Weinstein BULLIES the MPAA!!!

    Comment by fr — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:16pm PDT  
    • The MPAA was the bully for fighting so hard to keep the R rating when clearly they were wrong. You’re not a bully if you fight for what is right, ie Harvey.

      Keep fighting the good fight Harvey, you give us reason to be in this filthy business.

      Comment by MPAA is the bully — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:22pm PDT  
  • Congrats to the Bully who bullied his way to a PG-13 rating. Bull-y shit.

    Comment by captain Lashout — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:20pm PDT  
    • So this is supposed to be the new meme? That fighting back against an archaic group of bullies in order to get your film shown to its appropriate audience is wrong?

      Why are you even trying this?

      Comment by justme — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 8:36pm PDT  
  • Wow! Harvey Weinstein is truly the number one ” Bully ” of Hollywood. This , mostly , gets what he wants. No one can touch this Mogul.

    Comment by bsp — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:24pm PDT  
  • Great thanks to Weinstein’s lawyers who knew how to navigate the system. Many times in life that is how one gets things done

    Comment by Isidoro Morjaim — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:29pm PDT  
  • For once, when the elephants wrestled in the jungle, the small creatures didn’t get crushed, they won. We all did.

    Comment by Santayana — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:33pm PDT  
    • “…the small creatures didn’t get crushed, they won.”

      Have you ever actually SEEN a picture of Harvey?

      Comment by Bob Louise — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 6:23pm PDT  
  • And this compromise could have been reached 3 weeks ago, hence avoiding all the “controversy”?

    Gotta hand it to the Brothers, they find a way to make headlines.

    Comment by No One Of Consequence — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:33pm PDT  
  • Local governments should pass laws requiring that every school provide a special MANDATORY class session on the topic of bullying, and this film should be shown to accompany a follow-up discussion in the class.

    The only flaw, though no small one, with the film is that the viewer never gets to see how the families of the “bullies” function or how they respond, if at all, to the suggestion that their children are bullies. The film is quite powerful, but it remains one-sided. Just as the parents of the victims appear ignorant an ineffectual, I am certain the parents of the bullies would display questionable parenting techniques.

    Comment by CynicalCritic — Thursday April 5, 2012 @ 4:44pm PDT  
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