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Weinstein Company threatens to sue MPAA over 'Bully' rating

By Faith Heaton | Posted - Mar. 26, 2012 at 2:09 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Motion Pictures Association of America has caused an uproar that may result in a lawsuit because of an R-rating given to the documentary film, 'Bully' which restricts the teen audience the film is trying to reach.

The Lee Hirsch film, 'Bully,' documents the dangerous epidemic of bullying in the United States. The film depicts real life scenarios with thematic elements and profanity, but this didn't pose a problem for Canadian rating systems who gave the film a PG-rating.

Now people are in an uproar that the MPAA is prohibiting teens that the movie could impact and help. High school student, Katy Butler, who has been a victim of bullying, has collected 200,000 signatures on a petition to overturn the R-rating.

...We feel now is the time for the bullying epidemic to take center stage, we need to demand our community take action.

–- Harvey Weinstein

But she isn't the only fighting the MPAA. One of the films key contributors, The Weinstein Company, has also spoken out against the MPAA, and threatened to part ways and withdraw from the rating process because of their controversial rating system. This withdrawal could lead to the National Association of Theatre Owners treating all TWC's movies like NC-17 releases.

However, Owner Harvey Weinstein feels very adamant that the rating should be changed.

"As a company we have the utmost respect for NATO," Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter. "But to suggest that the film, 'Bully' could ever be treated like an NC-17 film is completely unsconscionable, not to mention unreasonable. In light of the tragedy that occurred in Ohio, we feel now is the time for the bullying epidemic to take center stage, we need to demand our community take action," Weinstein said, referring to the high school shooting in suburban Cleveland that left three students dead.

But the MPAA feels that if they lower the rating, it will compromise the entire rating system for movies in the U.S.


"As a father of a 9-year-old child, I am personally grateful that TWC has addressed the important issue of bullying in such a powerful documentary," John Fithina, President of NATO wrote in a letter to the TWC. "Yet were the MPAA and NATO to waive the ratings rules whenever we believed that a particular movie had merit, or was somehow more important than other movies, we would no longer be neutral parties applying consistent standards, but rather censors of content based on personal mores."

TWC chief operation officer, David Glasser stated that TWC is in negotiations with attorneys Martin Garvis and David Boies, the same team that helped overturn the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California. The attorneys will aid the company in the fight against the MPAA to make sure that 'Bully' can be seen by audiences everywhere, and that all efforts and actions will be done to recant NATO's letter.

'Bully' premieres in theaters on March 30th.

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