The battle over Bully is over — and both sides can claim victory.
The Weinstein Co. announced Thursday it had reached a deal with the Motion Picture Association of America to re-edit the controversial documentary so that it can get a PG-13 rating instead of the R-rating the MPAA originally gave it.
In wake of the MPAA’s original R-rating, the Weinstein Co. made the unusual move of releasing the film in limited release without a rating, giving individual theater owners the decision whether to show the film or not.
The new version of the film deletes some obscenities, but in an interesting move, it keeps a controversial scene on a school bus in which the ‘F-bomb’ is lobbed three times at a bullied child.
The decision to keep that scene intact represents a major exception to the MPAA’s rules; the group typically will impose an R rating on any film with more than two F-words.
Stephen Bruno, head of marketing for the Weinstein Co., told 24 Frames that “I can say with no stutter that we would have remained unrated if we had to change that scene.”
In an interview, Bully’s director Lee Hirsch said he could live with the agreement. “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.”
The crusade to get the MPAA to change the rating to PG-13 so that kids could see it drew support from countless celebrities, including Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Justin Bieber, to name only a few. The new rating means that children of any age can see the film without an adult.
Bully opened in limited release in a handful of theaters in New York and Los Angeles last weekend and hits approximately 115 theaters nationwide next weekend.