Weinstein Takes The Bully Pulpit
Harvey Weinstein is ratcheting up his battle with the MPAA and theater owners over the R rating his soon-to-be-released documentary Bully has received because of language. On Tuesday Weinstein responded to a letter from John Fithian, president of The National Association of Theatre Owners, who wrote that if Weinstein refuses to submit future films to the MPAA ratings board, as he has threatened, they will be treated by the owners as if they were unrated -- i.e., like NC-17 movies. Weinstein wrote that he regarded the decision as "unconscionable" -- particularly in the case of Bully. A NATO source pointed out that the ratings system is "totally voluntary," but when asked whether individual theater owners can elect to allow children to see an R-rated movie, while posting a warning to parents, he replied, "I have never heard of that happening." He pointed out that, contrary to popular belief, parents are not obliged to accompany children to see an R-rated movie -- that if they merely appear at the box office and buy tickets for them, the theater owner will permit them to enter. The source accused Weinstein of attempting to bully theaters into overturning the ratings standards that have effectively been in place for decades and pointed out that similar standards are applied to newspapers, television, and video games. "If Harvey Weinstein wants to have his movie shown in theaters [with a PG rating} with that language, he should do what they do on television -- bleep it out." Meanwhile, a Michigan teenager has collected more than 75,000 signatures on an online petition urging the MPAA to overturn the R-rating assigned to Bully. Katy Butler, an Arbor high school student who claims that she has been a victim of bullying, was quoted by the Hollywood Reporter as saying, "The MPAA needs to give Bully a PG-13 rating so the students being bullied, and the bullies themselves, can see the this film and schools can show it as well."