A few weeks ago, we reported on The Weinstein Company’s efforts to have the R rated on its new documentary Bully overturned. Unfortunately, the company’s efforts were unsuccessful. But the whole situation may have only added to the buzz and anticipation surrounding the film, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles.
Unable to overturn the Motion Picture Association of America’s absurd decision (Hunger Games, in which a 12-year-old is speared to death is PG-13), The Weinstein Company is releasing it unrated.
Some major movie theaters have agreed to allow teens to view the film, with certain caveats. Celebs have been tweeting about the movie, have made PSAs, and otherwise bringing attention to the issue. And the media has flocked to the cause, reviewing the movie favorably and covering the making of the film extensively. (We were so happy to see this Nightly News segment and find out that one of the stars of the movie is now living elsewhere and loving life.)
While many are questioning the MPAA’s system, ultimately it’s the movie that could suffer. And that would be a shame.
Many news outlets are encouraging parents and kids to see the movie, including Mike Huckabee who, on The Daily Beast, says, “Frankly, I wish all parents would take their kids to see the film and have a candid conversation about it afterwards, regardless of whether their child is more likely to be the victim of bullying or an instigator—and hopefully many will.”
And the L.A. Times says an increasing number of films are challenging the rating they’re given.
But Entertainment Weekly writes that unrated movies typical suffer financially and access will be limited because the decision about how to screen the film will be left to theaters that will likely opt-out of allowing younger viewers to purchase a ticket. The movie already had the odds stacked against it because, as The Atlantic says, “activist documentaries” don’t normally have lasting power, even when dealing with big issues.
Still, if any company is fit to maximize the effect of an unreasonable MPAA rating, it’s The Weinstein Company. “Harvey Weinstein never met a ratings controversy that he couldn’t massage into a publicity campaign,” opens this story.