Harvey Gets Angry, Threatens to 'Leave' the MPAA Over 'Bully' Rating
Oh boy, don't piss off Harvey Weinstein. Thankfully, it's the MPAA who did this time. There's been an on-going debate over the rating of a documentary The Weinstein Company is releasing called Bully, about bullying in schools, since it received an R-rating and they want to show it in schools. They appealed to get a PG-13, but lost today, and now Harvey is pissed, sending out press releases (one via Deadline) that go so far as to say "The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future." Whoa wait, what?! Is that even possible? I say do it, time to fight back and who better than Harvey!
The press release focuses mostly on their dissatisfaction with the MPAA's decision, and how Bully deserves to be seen and this is interrupting that. "The appeal board's decision eliminates the potential for Bully to reach a mass national audience of students through screenings at U.S. middle and high schools, where the film could be used as a tool to stop an epidemic of physical, psychological and emotional violence." Harvey personally attended the appeal along with Alex Libby, one of the bullied children whose experiences are documented. Libby "gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change."
Harvey continues in the press release (view in full here):
"With school-age children of my own, I know this is a crucial issue and school districts across the U.S. have responded in kind. The Cincinnati school district signed on to bus 40,000 of their students to the movie – but because the appeals board retained the R rating, the school district will have to cancel those plans."
"I personally am going to ask celebrities and personalities worldwide, from Lady Gaga (who has a foundation of her own) to the Duchess of Cambridge (who was a victim of bullying and donated wedding proceeds) to First Lady Michelle Obama (whose foundation has reached out to us as well), to take a stand with me in eradicating bullying and getting the youth into see this movie without restriction."
In industry speak, that's kind of like "bring it on", which is awesome, I say go for it. I'm very curious to see if he holds up to this "considering a leave of absence from the MPAA" threat or if it's just a way to build extra buzz, like this, and get the MPAA to cave. However, I'm also wondering if this kind of push will actually start a change in the MPAA, but only time will tell. Bully is set to be released in theaters on March 30th anyway. You can follow details on the appeal and their decision to fight back from the press release a few days ago.
"We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far," he adds. "I have been through many of these appeals, but this one vote loss is a huge blow to me personally," And when he takes on a personal challenge like this, you know he's not going to stop until it's settled. Especially with the likes of Lady Gaga and First Lady Michelle Obama, that may just be the kind of power and leverage needed to actually make some changes. I love that some people are really starting to rattle the cages of the MPAA, with Film School Rejects' petition and now this chance for Harvey and his company to test the fences. We'll have to keep you updated on Bully's rating and how they plan to fight back against the MPAA. Can he win?