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UPDATE: U.S. Theatre Chain Invites Kids To See ‘Bully’, Parents Television Council Wants It Banned
March 28, 2012
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While the documentary 'Bully' is rated PG in Canada, in the States, the conversation over the film's rating continues, with AMC - the U.S.'s second-largest cinema chain - deciding to permit filmgoers under the age of 17 to see the movie if they provide a permission slip when buying their ticket. The country's third-largest chain, Cinemark, has refused to screen the film at all unless the Weinstein Co. submits an R-rated version, while Regal, the largest chain, has not yet stated their position.

Meanwhile, the Parents Television Council (PTC) has issued a statement supporting an all-out ban of the film from theatres. They have asked all major theatres "to adhere to their own policies not to exhibit unrated films".

The PTC's reasoning is that allowing the film into theatres "sets a precedent that threatens to derail the entire ratings system". PTC President Tim Winter said "if a distribution company can simply decide to operate outside of the ratings system in a case like 'Bully', nothing would prevent future filmmakers from doing precisely the same thing, with potentially much more problematic material".

The MPAA reportedly gave the film an R rating because a bully in one scene uses the F-word repeatedly. The film's director Lee Hirsch has refused to alter or censor the scene in question, arguing that it would take away from the harsh reality of bullying: "The small amount of language in the film that's responsible for the R rating is there because it's real. It's what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days".

UPDATE: 'Bully' Doc Will Be Unrated In The U.S., PG in Most of Canada - March 27, 2012

A documentary about bullying in schools is set to be released in U.S. theatres without a rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The Weinstein Co. made the decision to release the film unrated when they could not persuade the MPAA to lower the rating from an R, which would prevent people under the age of 17 from seeing the film unaccompanied by an adult.

While the decision means that anyone will be admitted where the film is screened, many major theatre chains in the States have declined in the past to screen films without an MPAA rating. It remains to be seen how those chains will react to this film. Stephen Bruno, the marketing president for The Weinstein Co., says he believes "theater owners everywhere will step up and do what's right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves".

17-year-old Michigan high school student Katy Butler started a petition to lower the rating to PG-13, which has received 485,699 digital signatures so far. The cause was taken up by celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber, but the Weinstein's decision puts an end to Katy's hopes that the MPAA would change their mind.

In Canada, where individual provinces are responsible for rating films, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta have all given 'Bully' a PG rating. The film opens this Friday, March 30th. Check out the official website right here.

'Bully' Documentary Gets a PG Rating in Alberta and B.C. - March 12, 2012

A U.S. documentary about bullying just received some positive news from two Canadian provinces: today Alberta announced that it would follow B.C.'s lead and give the doc a PG rating. In the States, the creative team behind 'Bully', along with various supporters, has been pushing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the film's R rating to a PG-13 so that the young people who the film is about will be able to see it.

The MPAA gave the film an R rating because of profanities in some schoolyard scenes. One teen activist in the States has collected over 200,000 signatures on a petition which she presented to the MPAA last Wednesday, asking that they change the rating to allow kids to see the film. Other supporters include Ellen DeGeneres, who Tweeted last week "I wish this movie could be shown in every classroom in America". In B.C., the doc will carry a warning - 'coarse language, theme of bullying' - but a PG rating. The remaining provinces haven't rated the film yet, but are expected to in the coming days.

'Bully' was directed by Lee Hirsch. The film follows five school-age victims of bullying over the course of a year, offering a glimpse into their homes, classrooms, and principal's offices. In a statement he released after hearing about the B.C. decision, Hirsch said "I'm so humbled and incredibly inspired by the collective voices across the U.S. and Canada about this film. Last night, I learned of the B.C. Board's decision to grant 'Bully' a PG rating... Kids of all ages can now join their parents, teachers, social work advocates and leaders to bring about change for this deeply important cause".

The film will open in select theatres across Canada on April 6. Check out the trailer below:

Update: On March 13, Alliance Films announced that the film classification boards of both Ontario and Manitoba have also given Bully a PG rating.

And today various high-profile supporters of the film in the U.S. have come out against the MPAA's R rating decision.

AMC Entertainment CEO Gerry Lopez has spoken out against the rating, while actor Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer are co-hosting a screening in New York City, with Johnny Depp offering his help. Tommy Hilfiger is designing an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the movie's poster, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also says he opposes the rating.

Some figures on Capitol Hill have added their voices to the debate, with more than 20 lawmakers signing a bi-partisan letter to the MPAA urging that the rating be overturned. Senator Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Tweeted today that she supports lowering the rating to PG-13, joining Justin Bieber, who Tweeted his support last Friday.

Related stories on Strombo.com:

The Bully Project

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