'The King's Speech': Harvey Weinstein Defends PG-13 Theatrical Version

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
"The King's Speech"

"Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to see the film on the big screen," he says.

Harvey Weinstein is sounding off on the decision to release a PG-13 theatrical version of The Weinstein Co.'s four-time Oscar winner The King's Speech.

The decision had to do with inspiring children who were struggling as King George VI had with stuttering -- and not making more money, Weinstein says in a column for The Daily Beast.

"Did we do it for the extra shekels? A nice thought, but that was never in the cards," Weinstein says. "We absorbed additional production, delivery and marketing costs to bring The King's Speech PG-13 to moviegoers."

He says later in the column: "Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to see the film on the big screen. We didn't cut the movie. We altered the cursing in two scenes, and I believe the strength of the story withstands these changes without compromising its heart and soul."

Speech, which was rated R in its initial run in theaters due to language (the F-word is said numerous times specific scenes with Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth), had grossed more than $106 million at the domestic box office when the MPAA’s Classification and Ratings Administration gave its blessing to an alternative, more family-friendly versionjust a few days before the movie took home four Academy Awards.

Rush and Firth had voiced their opinions against a PG-13 version of their film. Rush hoped the swearing scene would not be taken out for the lower rating to be achieved, saying in late January, “If you cut it, then you’re going to cut one of the key thrills of the film.” Firth had a similar opinion, telling THR after winning the Oscar: “I don’t support it. I think the film has its integrity as it stands."

Weinstein emphasized the effect the film has had on people all over the country in his Daily Beast column.

"We've had letters from kids, parents and teachers, all asking the same thing -- make the film accessible to a younger audience. But perhaps even more compelling are the accounts from the few children here in America whose parents have elected to show them the original film," Weinstein writes.

He confessed to showing his own children the original film. "Listen, I showed my kids the original version because I believe they can understand the context of the minor vulgarity, but I respect a parent's choice not to," he says.

Weinstein spoke of the downturn in the box office in the major cities but an uptick in the rest of America when the PG-13 version was released. "It's almost certainly responsible for the upward curve in Raleigh, Salt Lake City, and Toledo, to name a few," he says. "These are cities where many families almost certainly wouldn't have embraced the film as a family experience without the offering of a PG-13 version."

Weinstein concludes: “If the PG-13 re-release enables one more child struggling with similar challenges to feel empowered and hopeful, then our efforts were worth it. And that's why this decision was an easy one.”