Weinstein Co. Changes Course, Edits 'Bully' for PG-13 Rating

Lee Hirsch/The Weinstein Company

The ratings board acts swiftly in granting the PG-13 and allows the Weinstein Co. and filmmaker Lee Hirsch to retain one crucial scene after other language trims were made.

The Classification and Ratings Administration has lowered the rating of high-profile documentary Bully from an R to a PG-13 after the Weinstein Co. resubmitted an edited version of the film.

Bully, which focuses on the bullying epidemic in America's schools, was assigned an R for six uses of the F-word. Rules allow only one use of the word in a PG-13 film.


After viewing the resubmitted version, the ratings board is allowing three uses of "f--k" in a victory for the Weinstein Co. and director Lee Hirsch, who did not want to cut a crucial scene where the word was used several times as Alex Libby -- a main subject of the film -- was bullied on a bus. Language exceptions can be made if there is a two-thirds vote by the ratings board.

The Weinstein Co. and Hirsch heralded the exception a win.

"I feel completely vidicated with this resolution," said Hirsh, who earlier this week blasted the MPAA for its langauge rules. "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," Hirsch said.

Harvey Weinstein and Hirsch had unsuccessfully fought to overturn the R rating during an appeals process, sparking off a nationwide debate that put the ratings system under a microscope. The duo have kept the story in headlines for weeks.

In separate statements, the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theater Owners, which jointly administer the ratings system, said they were pleased that the Weinstein Co. ultimately decided to make trims.

"We are pleased the Weinstein Co. respected the rules and processes of the voluntary ratings system by editing and resubmiting Bully in order to receive the PG-13 rating," NATO said Thursday.

In its statement, the MPAA said: "In the case of Bully, the ratings system has worked exactly as it is supposed to: parents have been kept informed of the content of each version of the film, and they have been given the information they need to make movie-going decisions on behalf of their kids."

Bully opened unrated last weekend in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, including three AMC theaters. Most exhibitors refuse to carry unrated films, but AMC still required kids younger than 17 to have the written or verbal permission of an adult, essentially meaning it was still treating Bully like an R-rated movie.

Regal Entertainment was expected to follow the same policy once Bully started expanding its run, along with smaller circuits, making it difficult for Bully to be widely seen by kids.

On April 13, Bully makes a major expansion into 55 markets with the new rating.

Harvey Weinstein gave a special shout out to MPAA chair-CEO Christopher Dodd, who held a special screening of Bully for educators in Washington, even as the ratings debate swirled.

"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," Weinstein said.

Weinstein is famous for his battles with the ratings board. Last year, he fought to overturn the R rating assigned to The King's Speech for language. As with Bully, he ultimately resubmitted the film so as to secure a PG-13 rating and woo families.