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In an unprecedented move, the Weinstein Co. will pull the R-rated version of The King’s Speech from theaters and release a PG-13 version of the Oscar winning film on April 1 in a bid to widen the audience.
King’s Speech, which won the Oscar for best picture, earned the R-rating because of language. In the PG-13 cut, numerous “fucks” have been muted. Other times, the word “shit” had been substituted in.
The teen-friendly version will play on 1,000 screens. In order to make sure moviegoers aren’t confused, the Weinstein Co. will have to mount a nationwide marketing campaign explaining the change in rating. Whether box office grosses will make up for the additional money spent on marketing is the big question.
Late last month, then-MPAA chair Bob Pisano and NATO president John Fithian signed a waiver allowing the Weinstein Co. to release the new version without having to wait 90 days from the time the R-rated version was pulled.
“We are thankful to the MPAA for their wisdom and swift action in approving the release of The King’s Speech PG-13 version,” TWC president of theatrical distribution and home entertainment Eric Lomis said.
Until a few years ago, there was no such provision for a waiver, meaning a distributor would have no choice but to wait 90 days. The King’s Speech marks the first time the waiver has been employed.
The only other time a film has been released in theaters with a new rating was in the case of Saturday Night Fever, but the PG version (the PG-13 rating did not exist then) came out months after the original R-rated film was out of theaters.
The Weinstein Co. believes the PG-13 version will generate box office revenues that otherwise would have been left on the table.
The King’s Speech took in $23.5 million of its domestic haul since winning the Oscar in late February. But the theatrical run of the re-rated version should be relatively brief when it arrives on April 1, since the DVD debut of the original movie is slated for April 19, just over two weeks later, and most theater owners won’t play a movie once it hits the home entertainment market.
The King’s Speech is one of the most successful independent films of all time, and a global blockbuster. In the U.S., the film has grossed $132.7 million for the Weinstein Co., which nabbed U.S. rights to the film before The King’s Speech started shooting.
Overseas, The King’s Speech has grossed north of $226 million.
Studios often resubmit films to the MPAA for a different rating for the DVD version.
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