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MPAA OKs PG-13 Version of 'King's Speech'

The King's Speech

UPDATED: The Weinstein Co. has agreed to withdraw the original R rated version of the costume drama to make way for the milder re-cut version.

The Classification and Ratings Administration has given its blessing to an alternative version of The King's Speech, granting the acclaimed historical drama a key waiver that will allow The Weinstein Co. to release the film with a less-restrictive PG-13 rating.

The Weinstein Co. has agreed to withdraw the original R-rated version of the film to make way for the milder version. It is unclear when the original will disappear from theaters, but it's likely that Harvey Weinstein would begin advertising the PG-13 version -- designed to make the film accessible to teens and kids -- when promoting any Oscar wins.

The original movie had been rated R for “some language,” specifically for two scenes where the F-word is uttered  numerous times.

In the new version, the sound is muted whenever Colin Firth's character -- King George VI -- says the F-word. Audiences will be able to see his lips move, however. King's Speech director Tom Hooper has previously said he didn't want to change one frame in the film. Technically, he hasn't.

CARA -- run by the MPAA and NATO -- granted an exception to a rule requiring a film to be withdrawn from theaters for 90 days before being re-released: “The purpose of the 90-day withdrawal period is to avoid public confusion about the rating of a film when there is more than one version introduced theatrically. However, the ratings rules allow the film’s distributor to show the MPAA and NATO that a period less than 90 days is sufficient to prevent confusion in light of circumstances related to the motion picture.”

The waiver was issued after MPAA president and interim CEO Bob Pisano and NATO president-CEO John Fithian endorsed a recommendation by CARA chair Joan Graves.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Graves said the ratings board has been taking key steps to become more filmmaker friendly. That included adopting the waiver rule in 2007; before that, a film had to be pulled for 90 days, period.

"We are not here to thwart product. We are here to give parents information about the content of a film," Graves said. "We are very willing to adapt to help films get to the marketplace."

Pisano chalked up the bending of the long-standing rule as the organization's moving with the times while stressing the King’s Speech situation was unique. 

“The movie rating system has endured for more than 40 years because it was designed to evolve not only with societal values, but with the growth and evolution of the motion picture industry itself,” said Pisano. “The Weinstein Company has undertaken a commitment to ensure, through a revised advertising campaign, that it will be clear to consumers that a newly rated version of this film is coming to theaters near them. In this case a waiver is justified.”   Fithian also commented: “Given the Weinstein Company’s commitment to advertise and promote the new version of The King’s Speech as a differently rated version, to remove all prints of the earlier version, and given the high profile of the movie, we believe there is little likelihood of confusion among our patrons. We are pleased that The Weinstein Company respected the rating system by creating a different version of their movie and submitting it for proper classification before making it available to a wider audience.”   The King's Speech has grossed more than $106 million at the domestic box office so far and $130 million internationally.