The Weinstein Co. decided to move past the R rating earned by its documentary “Bully” and was set to release the film unrated last week.
“Bully” was to hit theaters March 30 without a rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, meaning some theaters may choose not to show it. The film, directed by Lee Hirsch, examines school bullying as it follows five children and their families over the course of a school year.
The MPAA gave the film an R rating for language and declined to change it when the Weinstein Co. appealed. It received the rating, which restricts children younger than 17 from seeing it without an accompanying adult, because of six expletives. Harvey Weinstein, the film’s producer, claims the rating restricts the very audience the film can most benefit: teenagers.
Teenage activist Katy Butler started an online petition seeking a lower rating so more young people could see the movie and has collected more than 475,000 signatures so far. She even met with MPAA officials earlier last month, but the group stood its ground.
Mr. Hirsch said he declined to edit the documentary’s offensive language because it would diminish the painful reality of bullying. He expects many young people to see the film, “so it’s up to the theaters to let them in.”
AMC theaters announced last week that children younger than 17 will be allowed to see the film without an adult if they provide a signed permission slip that can be printed from the company’s website. Many schools and districts, however, prohibit teachers from showing R-rated films in class or planning outings with students to see them.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2012 edition of Education Week as After Protests Fail, ‘Bully’ Film Released Without MPAA Rating