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Harvey Weinstein is battling the MPAA again — this time over an R rating for The Weinstein Co.’s new movie Philomena, which stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed last month that The Weinstein Co. would appeal the film’s R rating for two nonsexual uses of the f-word.
EXCLUSIVE: ‘Philomena’ to Fight R Rating for Two F-Words
Now Weinstein is using James Bond to make his case ahead of Wednesday’s MPAA meeting.
Dench reprises her role as 007 aide M in a new video in which she dispatches an agent to take on the MPAA. A brief version of the video debuted on Thursday’s CBS This Morning, where Weinstein made an appearance to discuss the ratings dispute. The full video, which includes Philomena co-star Coogan, will premiere on Funny or Die.
In the clip, ominous music plays as the camera closes in on a chair, which spins around to reveal Dench’s M, who says, “Just when you thought I was dead.”
After a title card in which the “M” in “Philomena” is emphasized, M delivers her assignment.
“I have an important mission for you,” she says. “Are you familiar with MPAA?”
Weinstein discussed how he got Dench to reprise her famous role on the CBS morning show.
“With the blessing of Barbara Broccoli and the Bond team, M has returned from the dead to fight this battle,” he said. “The appeal is on Wednesday, and M has risen from the dead.”
Weinstein also defended his film, saying, “There are two f-words in the movie — you’re allowed one F. This is like The King’s Speech. The movie is the gentlest, most wonderful true story, filled with humor and joy. They should just put PG-13 strong language on this and make an exception.”
He added that removing the second f-word would be like “asking the director to change the intention” of the film. He argued that the language is “not gratuitous.”
The Stephen Frears-directed British dramedy focuses on the titular character’s search for the illegitimate child she was forced to put up for adoption decades ago. Coogan plays a journalist who accompanies Dench’s lead character to the U.S. on her journey.
The Weinstein Co. believes the film will be an awards contender. Philomena is set to be released in New York and L.A. on Nov. 22 before getting a moderate nationwide expansion Nov. 27, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
When asked why he was concerned about an R rating for a film that would seem to appeal to primarily older audiences, Weinstein said, “Our research shows us that especially down south and in the Midwest, the PG-13 rating is very important for adults. There’s a certain group of people who do not want to go and see an R-rated movie. Usually they’re church families, and I think this is a movie that church families would profit by seeing. I think they’ll love the movie — it’s very entertaining.”
He also once again insisted that the MPAA picks on his company more than other studios. Indeed, Weinstein has had a number of public fights with the trade group, with some claiming those disputes are merely ways of generating publicity.
On CBS, he did concede that he’s having fun with the MPAA by involving James Bond in the fight this time.
Watch Dench’s video and Weinstein’s appearance on CBS This Morning below.
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