'Philomena' to Fight R Rating for Two F-Words (Exclusive)


The decision to fight the restrictive rating marks the latest showdown between Harvey Weinstein's company and the movie ratings system.

Stephen Frears' British dramedy Philomena, starring Judi Dench, has received an R rating in the U.S. from the Classification and Ratings Administration for two non-sexual uses of the f-word.

The Weinstein Co., which is releasing the critically acclaimed film over the Thanksgiving holiday, failed in its bid to be granted an exemption and will now officially appeal the rating, insiders tell THR. TWC believes the movie will appeal to a broad spectrum of moviegoers, and says an R rating will hurt that effort.

FILM REVIEW: Philomena

Harvey Weinstein's company is no stranger to taking issue with the ratings board, having waged high-profile appeals for The King's Speech and Bully, both of which received an R for language.

TWC has big plans for Philomena, based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith about Philomena Lee, an Irish-Catholic woman who was forced decades earlier to put up her illegitimate baby for adoption in the U.S. The story follows Philomena (Dench) and the journalist (Steve Coogan) as they travel to the U.S. to find the child. TWC believes the film will be an awards contender.

Philomena opens in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 22 before making a moderate nationwide push on Nov. 27, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Movie-going spikes over the long holiday weekend, and TWC believes Philomena will play to families and serve as potent counter-programming to more commercial fare.

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Last year, the ratings board granted a language exemption to Bully, which also contained more than one use of the word "f---."

"It doesn't make sense why they didn't do it here. It's a wholesome movie that deserves to be seen by everybody," says one person close to the film. "It's not even Judi Dench's character who says the word."

In the U.K., Philomena received a 12 rating, meaning it is deemed suitable for anyone 12 and over.

Philomena made its world premiere in competition at the recent Venice International Film Festival, where Coogan and Jeff Pope won the award for best screenplay. The film next made its North American debut at the Toronto Film Festival.