EDITORIALS

Harvey Weinstein is Going to Cut 'King's Speech' Down to PG-13?!

by
January 27, 2011
Source: LA Times

The King's Speech

Are you ready to be disgusted? Yesterday, an article hit on the LA Times saying that Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company, the distributor releasing The King's Speech, was considering re-editing the film and removing a few key scenes where the language used originally gave the film an R-rating. Apparently the $60 million its made so far (well above 127 Hours' $11M) wasn't enough, and they want to make even more, so they're going to cut it down to a PG-13 or even PG rating so that "kids" can go see it. In no way is this an acceptable idea, if they change it to suit the MPAA's rules, they'll be ruining the integrity of the entire film!

The problem, for those who haven't seen the film, is that there are a few scenes with gratuitous use of "foul" language, including lots of F-bombs. In The King's Speech, Colin Firth (who will probably win the Oscar) stars as King George VI and speaks with a severe stammer. Geoffrey Rush plays an unconventional speech therapist who helps him overcome that stammer so he can speak publicly. Part of that training process for him to learn to speak stammer-free is using expletives in rapid succession, since he doesn't stammer when he swears. To undermine the MPAA, I've posted one of those scenes, with foul language intact, right below.

Why would Harvey Weinstein Scissorhands even think of doing this? "The British numbers are huge because the rating lets families see the movie together," said Weinstein. "Tom and I are trying to find a unique way to do this that keeps his vision of the movie." The good news is that he is working with director Tom Hooper, but that does not mean it's right to re-edit it just to suit the MPAA. It's just a sad idea to begin with. The real problem is with the MPAA, not the film! In the UK, The King's Speech has a rating of 12A - "Suitable for 12 years and over." In the US, it's rated R - no one under 17 admitted without an adult. Anyone see anything wrong with the MPAA's rating? How is it 12+ in one place and 17+ in another?! What's wrong with them?

The LA Times says that this recut version wouldn't hit theaters until after the Oscar ceremony on February 27th. At this moment, the two films that are battling for Best Picture seem to be The King's Speech and The Social Network. If it wins, I can understand their desire to get tons of audiences in to see this, but why must that be at the cost of cutting important scenes from the movie. "The message more was about the critics, but now we're trying to get across that this classic movie is just as cool as the other movies people are seeing," said Weinstein. In three more weeks, they'll be expand the film into 3000 theaters for a true wide release.

This is just further proof of how broken and utterly ridiculous the Motion Picture Association of America is. It's even more unfortunate that they have rules no one can break and laws everyone must follow if a film is even to be released. This isn't the first time The Weinstein Company had problems with the MPAA, as they had to fight to get Blue Valentine moved down from an NC-17 rating to R, just because of a scene that, while extremely necessary in the context of the movie, apparently upset a few of the members of the MPAA. What members? Well, no one knows, as the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated even tried to explore but to not much success. Who the heck is rating The King's Speech as R just for some "fucks"? That's not bad at all!

I doubt that Harvey Weinstein is reading this, but I want to do everything in my power to prevent them from re-editing it. The film is already a success, it's one of my favorite films of the year, it just earned a leading 12 nominations at the Oscars, why do they really think it needs to make more money and reach kids? And why can't parents just take their kids, or wait to show it to them on DVD where the MPAA doesn't have control? Who knows. But all I do know is that this is extremely sad news to report and I hope, for the sake of honest and true cinema, this does NOT happen and they do NOT ever release a "PG-13 version." Do you agree?

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  • Anonymous
    at least i got to see the movie in tact before this abomination takes place. i'll tell ya, alex - my plan on buying this on dvd will change unless it's in the ORIGINAL form. and will this set a precedant? will other films not making as much money as film companies want be hacked up (dumbed down?) to make them "friendly" to kids? this is buggity bug, bug, bug..... BULLSH!T !!! LOL
  • Hunka
    I agree the MPAA in the US is so flawed, but those few scenes mentioned would prevent me from allowing my kids from seeing it. I fully enjoyed the picture and wow, the performances were incredible, but though the f-bomb made it comedic, I don't think it was needed. Don't get me wrong, I don't like that the MPAA has truly become a legal censor and....made a business of it at that, indeed.
    • PARENTS ARE TOO SELFISH!!!!!
      Fine. That's your choice as a parent. But your children aren't going to be children forever. And to PERMANENTLY RUIN (Alter) such a wonderful film, so that kids can see it too is an ABOMINATION!!! KIDS WILL HATE THIS FILM because they won't be able to understand or appreciate what it is to be "damaged" by life and the struggle to try to overcome it! I would rather every child in America have to stay home and wait a few years to see this film, that to have it BUTCHERED so selfish parents can "take their kids" to see it. You know what MY PARENTS would do when they wanted to see a film that wasn't appropriate to bring me to? HIRE A BABYSITTER!!!!!!!!!!!! Or I'd spend time with grandma and grandpa! Did you selfish parents of America EVER think of that?!?!?!?!?!
  • Ben
    Americans! Actually, that pretty well much sums it all up.
    • Adult and loving it
      Please don't generalize. Corretion: "SELFISH, AMERICAN PARENTS" ruin everything for the rest of us, ADULT AMERICANS!
    • Todd
      Yep.
  • ibleedbloo
    Next they will be putting a robe on the statue of David. I finally saw Tangled, maybe they should cut out the kidnapping scene do they don't scare kids. Point of the story, wear a condom.
    • Me
      I have an even BETTER IDEA: LIFE is just SOOOOO DANGEROUS - how about people just STOP HAVING CHILDREN ALTOGETHER! It's much safer for the child. They can't get more protected than never being born! That way they'll never be hurt, sick, exposed to f'bombs, terrorizm, bad recession, broken hearts, disappointment. They'll just remain in heaven, while the rest of us poor schlubs have to "live" and "die".
  • harv
    I guess violence is ok but when it comes to words used in a non-aggressive way but in a more liberating and comedic way then it's too much? Films like the Dark Knight are rated PG-13 and we are to believe the King's Speech is worse? This was given a 12A release here in the UK for a reason. The swearing and it's usage is not offensive or aggressive in it's application. From the BBFC "Contains strong language in a speech therapy context’. The BBFC’s language Guidelines for ‘12A’ state: ‘The use of strong language (for example f***) must be infrequent’. In the case of The King’s Speech there are two isolated instances where the character of King George VI uses strong language several times at the instigation of his therapist during the speech therapy sessions he is undergoing to alleviate his stammer. The strong language is not aggressive and not directed at any person"
    • parents: Hire a babysitter!
      Yes, exactly! Hello!!!? Another post here says: "PG-13 films show charachter's getting shot, bleeding and dying, all the time" but Mommy and Daddy tell the kids "it's ok.... he was the bad guy." Bad guy or NOT, that's teaching your child that violence is the answer! It also teaches your kid that to kill is fine.... as long as he's "a bad guy" and "bad" is subjective and all relative. I wonder if that guy who shot that Congresswoman and killed 6 people had parents who took him to see PG-13 films with violence and told him that kind of justice was "acceptable" leading him to grow up and in his warped thinking, deliver his own idea of "justice." Maybe if his parents had take him to see films like akin to this film instead of the "action" films, he'd be a different person today and not so violent oriented! In this film, the swearing is a MAJOR PSYCHOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH in THE HEALING PROCESS AND IS NECCESSARY!!!!!! "Bertie" does NOT stammer when he is angry and swears! This is SO IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT! If you edit those scenes.... what will you replace the words with? "Sugar" instead of "Shit?" "Fudge" instead of "Fuck" PuhLEASE!!!!!!! Even, if you want to cut down on how many times its said: its STILL BEEN SAID! What difference if it's said ONCE or A HUNDRED times? None! If you're worried about your kids, you know what's the BEST WAY TO APPROACH THIS: DO NOT REACT TO THE CURSE WORDS! Then they have no power to your children. When people act "all offended" at a word... that give it meaning.... and POWER. If you don't react and keep your reaction to a minimum.... your kids will forget that word by the end of the film! If they do ask you what those words mean, just tell them it's words some people say when they get mad, in our family when we feel mad like that, we say: Don't RUIN a film over such stupiditiy and LAZY PARENTING!!!!
  • BaSs1L
    Let's face it, kids wouldn't want to see this movie, so it is pointless to do that
  • Concourse D
    If the director doesn't mind, why should we be upset about it? The R-rated version is not going to disappear forever (home video, anyone?), and some people who object to the language will enjoy a great but slightly truncated movie. Relax; it's just marketing. No one is censoring anything. If people want to take their kids to the R-rated version, they still can.
    • SkaOreo
      "No one is censoring anything" Except they are. And considering they'll probably be pushing this pg-13 version (if it does come into fruition) the mainstream audience won't even know about the original version. If people want to see The King's Speech, they should be able to see it in its full glory; not some edited version. But I think the thing that upsets me the most is that it's alright for movies like Tron: Legacy to have massive amounts of violence (it's ok if there's no blood) and retain a PG rating, yet a couple of scenes with the usage of "fuck" warrants The King Speech an R rating? It's complete bullshit.
      • Concourse D
        No, they really aren't censoring anything. They really, really aren't. They're recutting it. Right now, anyone in America can go out and see the current version. The "mainstream audience" has all the access it is ever going to get to The King's Speech as we speak. It would be censorship if some version of the film was being suppressed, and that's just not the case here. MPAA ratings are voluntary (studios and distributors agree to abide by them), clearly laid out by the MPAA ("http://www.mpaa.org/ratings/what-each-rating-means"), and largely (albeit not perfectly) consistent from movie to movie. The filmmakers and studios know this from the beginning, so it's not a shock when "The King's Speech" gets an R rating. And now more than ever, websites like screenit.com and kids-in-mind.com give parents all the info they could ever want to make an informed decision around an MPAA. So, relax. Americans are free to see The King's Speech now and will be in the future. And in the end, if the director okays it, the artist intentions are being honored. This is a win/win for the filmmakers, the people whose livings depend on movies making money, and every kind of audience who gets to see an artist-approved movie.
  • Get Real
    Seems like "ruining the integrity of the entire film" happens a lot in this industry as the majority of films released are edited for broadcast or airline viewing. Get over yourself, it's a fine story with or without the f-bombs.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Just because it happens often does NOT mean it's acceptable. Any filmmaker will tell you that they hate the broadcast edits. Just because you find it acceptable doesn't mean editing/cutting a film isn't still ruining the integrity of cinema. It IS, no question, I just wish more people would actually care about that integrity, as this kind of editing of art is just plain disgusting to see.
  • Day
    In Canada the King's Speech was given only a rating of PG, yet in the States the MPAA gave it an R?!? With that said, I actually saw quite a bit of parents who brought their children to see it with them.
  • Snears
    Shits weak.
  • Moon
    It's taking out a few swear words who cares? If this means more people will see the film then I say they do it.
    • Anonymous
      Moon and Get Real got it right. taking out a scene where he only screams curse words isn't going to change the impact of the film at all.
      • SkaOreo
        Honestly, I think you're both missing the point if you don't see what the big deal is at all. Sure it's a small part of a film, but it's a great scene and it would be shameful to see it cut. There's no real reason this movie should have been rated R in the first place, and editing it to make it pg-13 is not the right answer.
        • Anonymous
          I get the point completely and agree this film shouldn't have been rated R. I of all people disagree with the MPAA's rating system. BUT! in America it was rated R and in America they're going to get around that by cutting out the ONLY part that makes the movie rated R. If you can't break the rules (be them shitty or not) then find a way around them. and like Concourse D said, if the people who MADE the movie are fine with editing 1 scene then there is no real problem here.
  • http://www.skonmovies.com/ Sean Kelly
    Yeah, this is just a terrible idea. The film shouldn't have been rated R in the first place. In Ontario, the film has a PG rating, with the swearing intact!
  • JP
    The original movie will still exist, so it's not that upsetting. The thing is, I don't think kids will want to see this movie as it involves a lot of talking, so what's the point?
  • Anonymous
    Actually MPAA stands for Morons Persisting Against Allowance.
  • Staatz
    This is silly, what kids would want to see a movie about talking?
  • Nathan
    It is not necessarily the f bombs being removed that is ruining the film it is the scene containing the f bombs. When they actually reach the point in the therapy where he starts swearing, it is a telling scene showing how their relationship both as teacher and student, and as friends, has become something so much more relaxed. The king is willing to abandon a lifetime of coaching against that behavior under his therapists advice. Later in his nervousness just prior to the final speech, the king swears again as he goes over in his head what he needs to be properly prepared, and this scene again helps to build up to the final speech itself. Removing it would kill a lot of the anticipation the audience feels at the end.
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AN7GWT7UK2GLV6NGQG7CW4XLIE sarah
    I agree with you, Alex. I'm American and I've taken my kids to R-rated films in the past when I thought they had merit for them, (e.g., Shakespeare In Love, the Green Mile). There's nothing stopping parents from taking their kids to see King's Speech. Today, I read on Deadline that it's "educators" who are asking for the PG version so they can show it to students. Not sure I buy that, but the article also said that it's not a certainty, and if Tom Hooper doesn't want it, it won't happen.
  • Mhc121
    This is so ridiculous & the mpaa is ridiculous. I bet the ratings were made by some bitter old hags that would have no relevance in any other part of society. I've seen kid's cartoons w/ more violence & vulgarity than what's in this movie. All the members of the mpaa that gave this rating should all be fired & replaced w/ people who actually have some common sense.
  • SASDA
    What a surprise. A jew throwing integrity out the door to make more money.
  • Sumit
    Good article Alex, as a Brit I always find the MPAA ratings odd. Never got how something relatively tame like American Pie (or in this case Kings Speech) could get the same rating as a Saw movie! BTW What did everyone think of Cameron's family friendly re-dub of Avatar? IN this case I wasn't too bothered as the original language wasn't that harsh to begin with and the changes didn't affect the tone of the film or dialogue too much.
  • Bubbab
    The Weinsteins are known for hacking good films apart. This is no surprise.
  • fancy pants
    That is so stupid, why would a kid want to see this movie in the first place. I don't even want to see the movie.
  • jeb stuart
    this will indeed change the film . you don't take out hilarious and pivotal scene out of a movie to make more money
  • http://twitter.com/Nielsen700 Mattias Nielsen
    It's so funny seeing how uptight America is. In Norway the movie is rated A, which means everyone can see it.
  • Anonymous
    "fuck" is one of the greatest human words ever, why do people cringe so much at it?
  • Anonymous
    Fuck is a great word, screw Weinstein!
    • Anonymous
      other French words: Inconvenient, Non-Essential
  • Trifid
    If you think your 6 year old hasn't come across swear words being used freely, than you're either far too naive or far too stupid. I personally cannot decide which. Probably a little of both. I would love to generalize Americans in all this, but the problem reaches far beyond their dumbfounding conservative attitude towards sex and language. This is a problem that exists in several countries. Honestly, parents need to be objective about things and start having real and honest conversations with their kids. And judge from there what they can or cannot watch. Letting an inept entity such as the MPAA be the ultimate authority in your decision making, is about as productive as placing your head in a vice and tightening it till you feel a pop.
  • Me
    DON'T YOU DARE DO THAT! Children in this country are TOO "pampered" and "protected" in this country and they grow up to be ungrateful, self-important, adults with a sense of "entitlement" and a false sense of "IMMORALITY!!!! Adults used bad language around me when I was a child and guess what? I didn't grown up to be a serial killer, in fact, I'm a normal, functioning human being!!!! If people had "pampered" and "over-protected" me, I'd go through life EXPECTING nothing bad could ever happen to me. Meaning: I'd never wear my seat belt, I'd drive after drinking, and I wouldn't save for retirement. STOP WITH THE OVER-PROTECTING - YOU ARE RUINING THE FUTURE ADULTHOOD OF THESE KIDS!!!!!! (and ruining the CURRENT ADULTHOOD of the rest of us!!!) This is an uplifting film about someone overcoming an imediment.... there's no blood, no violence, etc... So what if the f-bomb is dropped several times.... How many PG films do you see that have shooting or blood? The Kings Speech is perfect the way it is, if anyone child or adult is soo affected by the F'bomb... you know what.... they had mental problems that were going to surface eventully anyway.
  • Anonymous
    Why the [bleep] don't they just "bleep" the [bleep]ing word out, like they used to [bleep]ing do? Because that... A) Doesn't ruing the [bleep]ing integrity of the film B) Makes absolutely clear the character said an offensive word, and that you shouldn't [bleep]ing say that. That's how I learned not to say [bleep] or [bleep] all the [bleep]ing time when I was a kid, and now know when and where to keep my [bleep]ing mouth shut or just say poop or darn instead. And no muting the dialog/sound or replacing words (I'll never forget Die Hard 2's USA broadcast of "Yippie Kai Ya MEESTA FALCUHN", where the last two words sounded like Arnold Shwarzenegger personally dubbed Bruce Willis's lines). That also ruins the integerity of the film. Dancing around a sensitive subject (such as censorship) only reinforces the fact its ok to avoid the RESPONSIBLITY of solving problems (when is censorship appropriate), instead of actually dealing with it. YES foul language, violence, sex, nudity, etc. should be censored for channels/events/situations where children WILL be present, and more appopropiately ENCOURAGED to be present. Broadcast TV (day-to late evening), Award Shows, Sporting Events, the [bleep]ing NEWS!!! (gore for ratings is GORE FOR RATINGS) NO it is not appropriate for Theatrical releases (keep the [bleep]ing kids out of my R-Rated screenings), DVDs, Screeners, or other private and/or RESTRICTED screenings. Nobody under 21 at a stripclub should mean the same as nobody under 17 at an R-Rated movie about Strippers. It seems we need to have the MPAA finally take responsiblity for their ratings system. It's too judgemental and way too imprecise. I have no problems with G, PG, or NC17.. as they seem to be used appropriately (I blame distributors for not making NC17 films more accessible to adult film goers). My issue is that gap between PG-13 and R is too large and too vauge. There is a lot of emotional, moral, and sexual experiences that span those crucial 13 to 17 years of life. Sure not every 17 year old is sexualy active, or even have a firm graps on the reproductive system; so I am all for them being banned from seeing a hardcore sex scene, or extensive graphic nudity in a film. However, 99.99% of even 15 year olds are well versed in profanity, in all it's forms, as well as drug use, violence, and morality. Keep in mind 15 years of age is a high school sophomore, and legally permitted to drive a car. If we, as a nation, feel you have matured enough to be responsible for 3000lbs of metal traveling at 60mph, I think you should be able to handle a few bad words. Or a few dozen.
    • Tegbert
      Kids learned this kind of crap from those who you refer to as adults. This is part of our problem in this world. We think we are mature enough to handle the language and the sex and the violence and so forth in films because we think we are adults? What if I were to say that those of us who attend films with such content are really just childish thrill seekers who have reached the age of consent? Many "adults" can't handle their booze any more than they can handle the effects of pornography or foul language. When it is said that a movie is for mature audiences only, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the movie is for immature adult audiences who don't have the depth of character or the moral will power to resist watching it. Adults are supposed to be children who grow up to be responsible citizens and exercise more wisdom in their decision making by virtue of their life experiences. Sadly, we have children making films who have reached the age where they are considered adults, but have not been reared by exemplary moral and responsible adults. The almighty dollar is more important than producing a morally responsible film. We don't need to bring the real world into film. We experience that every day. It used to be that going to a movie was a way to escape reality. Now, there is more reality in film making than ever before. But, I diverge. Lest I sound self-righteous, let me be the first to say that I have not always exercised the kind of control over my own movie selections. I am working on it. My point is that we as a society vote with our dollars and if we stopped spending our dollars on movies containing dubious content, the movie makers would get the message and stop producing them. Soon, a lot of society's ills would disappear. I am an exhibitor, and I try to make the best choices that I can in selecting movies. It is getting increasingly more difficult. We don't show R-rated movies, and many PG-13s do not meet our standards.
  • Anonymous
    OK... the film cost $15 Million to produce. The thing has made almost $100 Million internationally. It will probably sell a couple million copies on DVD and Bluray... there's another $30-40 Million. That gives them around $130 Million or so, and over $100 Million in profit. They can't have spent more than a million in marketing. What the fuck are they complaining about? Hey you Weinstein morons... Maybe you should take that little movie that's making as much PER THEATER as the #1 and #2 box office films for FIVE STRAIGHT WEEKS and release it in MORE FUCKING THEATERS. You're making as much per theater as the first and second place movies, but you've got your movie in less than half of the theaters. Obviously people want to see your god damn movie, cause they're packing the screenings, even after it's been in a relatively wider release for three or four weeks. It's the only film on the charts that's gone UPWARD in rank for the last several weeks in a row. It's now at #4 for the previous weekend, and if you look at the daily charts it's currently hovering in second place. Are these guys seriously this stupid? It's not the film that sucks, here. It's their idiotic release strategy.
  • i have no name
    If you already seen the movie why care? Plus it will get released on dvd in all versions. This isn't something to piss your pants about.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Um, yes it is, and if you don't think it is, you really don't care about the integrity and honesty of real film. And that makes me very sad to see.
  • voodoo2
    Weinstein is a damn dirty melon farmer!
  • Lebowski
    This isn't about education, or censorship or anything remotely cerebral. It is about money. Or more accurately, Harvey Weinstein's acute lack of money right now. He want's this to play for as long and as wide as possible, and would probably cut even further from PG13 if he could. Shouldn't have left Disney, shouldn't have poured all that money into stinkers like Cold Mountain. And now he has to wait for Goldman Sachs to declare him debt free. Art house films won't save you Harvey, it's not 1994 and this ain't Cannes.
  • az
    I'm cool with it. I'd rather not watch a movie with 50+ F-words. If they want to do it, let them do it. You can go ahead and watch the unedited version, what's the big deal?
    • az
      They play edited movies on TV and airlines all the time so families can watch them, so how is this any different?
  • Haz
    Well, i know if I'm a kid, the last thing I want to see is a crusty British drama. As an adult, I love contemporary movie full of great acting and dialogue. Weinstein needs to find his target audience here.
  • KC
    What's funny to me is that I saw this today with a PG rating (Canada). The swears are far less offensive than things I had seen (with parental consent) by the time I was twelve. There is nothing in this film that is more disturbing than what I can watch on the history channel (Nazi footage - nongraphic just makes me think of Schindler's List). I would have no problem taking my teenaged cousins to this movie since anyone over the age of 8 knows not to repeat such words in polite company. The swearing was an important step in the evolution the therapy and in all honesty the entire audience laughed at some of the 'profane' words (tits).
  • Tegbert
    Without reading all the foregoing comments, and let me first say that I am an exhibitor, I do have a problem with The King's Speech, and I have not even seen it. America is sick, and there are many reasons why it is sick and getting sicker. We see all kinds of symptoms around us, gratuitous use of foul language, obsession with pornography, kids with no moral compass, etc, etc. Good kids are pummeled every day at school with the use of f bombs. They get numbed to the word. Isn't that how it goes. It is first rejected, then winced at, then accepted, then embraced. Someone in the MPAA has not embraced the use of the f word like most of our sick society has. I welcome Mr. Weinstein to clean this film up and make it available to those of us who have not embraced the use of coarse language as normal.
  • Claudette Flint
    How can one disagree? One of Polanski's films, Dance with the Vampires, had been massacred by cutting. There were lots of hilarious jokes like the jewish vampire who is not afraid of the crucifix. That was cut. And with the fashion of the politicaly correct there is not a chance to re-establish the original version. The French film,Les Visiteurs, about a Middle-Age knight landing in the 20th Century, was seen by whole primary schools with their teachers. When it came to England and the US, it became a "15"!!! Because of one f.. word!! I found it f... unfair when children in the US and UK are far more free of doing what they want than in any country. However it is a good way to limit the success of foreign films.

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