The Weinstein Company (TWC) has agreed to revise the documentary Bully in order to get a PG-13 rating.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) originally handed the anti-bullying film an R rating for profanity, meaning the teen and pre-teen audience it was targeting could not have seen the doc without an accompanying adult. Director Lee Hirsch refused to make cuts and the distributor released an unrated version of the film in a limited run last week.
More than 500,000 students petitioned to have the rating changed and the cause drew support from anti-bullying activists, U.S. lawmakers and education groups.
Last week, the two sides came to agreement that will see the film released with a PG-13 rating when it expands to 115 new theaters on April 13. Hirsch has removed three uses of the “F” word from the doc, however a key scene in the film in which teen Alex Libby (pictured above) is harassed on a bus will remain untouched.
The MPAA typically gives an R rating to a film with more than two uses of the “F” word. The rating change means that teens age 13 and over can see it unaccompanied and cinema chains that have a policy against screening unrated films can now show it.
In a statement, TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein hailed the new rating as a victory for both sides, calling MPAA chairman Chris Dodd a “hero” for championing the cause. The MPAA also made an exception to its policy that bars films from receiving a new rating before 90 days.
“The MPAA showed great courage by not cutting the scene everyone has been fighting to keep,” he said. “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,” added 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.
“The scene that mattered remains untouched and intact, which is a true sign that we have won this battle,” he added. “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.”