The ratings battle over “Bully” is over.
In what amounts to a compromise for director Lee Hirsch’s documentary distributed by The Weinstein Company, three uses of the “F word” have been removed from the film. But “the intense scene in the film that shows teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus, has been left fully intact and unedited,” according to a statement from The Weinstein Company.
That scene includes three uses of the “F word” — which are subtitled for clarity due to ambient noise during the scene — more than the MPAA typically permits in a PG-13 film.
A Weinstein Co. representative confirmed to Hitfix that no actual footage has been removed from the film. The sound simply drops out during the three “cut” uses of the “F word.”
The new PG-13 rating will be in effect for the film’s April 13 expansion into 55 markets and will aid in ongoing efforts to use the documentary as an educational tool. (Many schools and educators would have second thoughts about screening a R-rated film for kids under 17, if they were allowed to screen it at all.)
Although the rating change did necessitate audio cuts, Hirsch views the PG-13 as a victory.
He said in a statement: “I feel completely vindicated with this resolution. While I retain my belief that PG-13 has always been the appropriate rating for this film, as reinforced by Canada’s rating of a PG, we have today scored a victory from the MPAA. The support and guidance we have received throughout this process has been incredible, from the more than half a million people who signed Katy Butler’s petition, to members of Congress, Governor Mike Huckabee and the many celebrities and others who raised their voices to express deeply felt support for a film that can inspire millions. The scene that mattered remains untouched and intact, which is a true sign that we have won this battle.”
The film had a strong limited release debut last weekend — when it was released unrated after Weinstein Co. surrendered the MPAA’s R rating — earning $116,472 from only 5 engagements, the biggest opening for a documentary so far this year.