Anti-Bullying Documentary "Bully" May Get NC-17 Rating Status from Theatre Owners! How You Can Help! 

Man, this plot just keeps getting thicker and weirder. We first told you about The Weinstein Company's anti-bullying documentary "Bully" receiving an R-rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America. Harvey Weinstein, together with Alex Libby, one of the bullied children documented in the film, appealed the MPAA rating and lost!

So now, kids will not be able to see the film because of its R-rating. And this movie is intended for them! It's an anti-bullying documentary, after all. Right?

Well, I just received an email from The Weinstein Company telling us that the Lee Hirsch film may get an NC-17 rating from the National Association of Theatre Owner (NATO)! How's that for rubbing salt into the wound?

Apparently, the President & CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners, John Fithian, sent Harvey Weinstein a letter dated February 24 "on behalf of NATO stating that they may urge theater owners to treat BULLY as an NC-17 rated film. With an NC-17 rating, children under the age of 18 will not be permitted to see the movie even with a parent or guardian present."

We all know that bullying has become a national crisis, so the big question remains -- why are the MPAA and NATO bullying "Bully?"

The film, from what I gathered, received an R-rating not because of nudity or excessive violence, but because of the harsh language. Well, when you're making a documentary about bullying, harsh language is part of the territory.

So now, both Harvey and Bob Weinstein are saying they're fighting back, "As a company we have the utmost respect for the National Association of Theatre Owners, but to suggest that the film BULLY could ever be treated like an NC-17 film is completely unconscionable, not to mention unreasonable. In light of the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Ohio, we feel now is the time for the bullying epidemic to take center stage."

Yeah, how about that? The Ohio story? Hhhmmm.....

"Bully" is supposed to be released in theaters on March 30th, time is ticking for TWC to battle! But the company's COO, David Glasser, said the studio "will be fully prepared for this battle and is in negotiations with renowned attorneys Martin Garvis and David Boies to help TWC in their efforts to do whatever needs to be done to give BULLY, in theaters on March 30, the ability to be shown to audiences everywhere. All efforts and actions will be done to recant NATO’s letter to TWC."

Glasser further said, "NATO's letter is inflammatory and disrespectful not only to the children and families in the film who courageously let us into their lives so this epidemic can be stopped, but to the millions of children, parents, teachers and school officials for whom this film was made. NATO's decision to treat BULLY as an NC-17 rating was extremely reactionary. I don't know how they can do this to the children."

I agree wholeheartedly!

But get this, there's a Michigan high school student who is so passionate about this cause that she recently began an online petition. Right now, she has 118,000 signatures. The petition is growing by thousands as each hour passes. Please sign the petition right here, I did!

Oh, and if you want to weep? Here's the letter that NATO sent to the Weinsteins:


Dear Harvey,

The National Association of Theatre Owners partners with the MPAA in the rules and operations of the Classification and Ratings Administration. Exhibition representatives participated yesterday in the appeal of "Bully." As you know, the appeals board voted to uphold the ratings board's decision that the prevalence of harsh language in "Bully" warranted an R rating. In response, you released a statement criticizing the decision, and threatening to remove your company's movies from the ratings process.

As the father of a nine-year-old child, I am personally grateful that TWC has addressed the important issue of bullying in such a powerful documentary. The filmmaker and especially the brave young people who participated in this project deserve our attention and respect. Nonetheless, I believe that your public response to the decision of the appeals board is unwise.

Surveys of America's parents reflect their very strong concern with the use of harsh language in movies. The vast majority of parents surveyed have indicated that the type of language used in "Bully" should receive an automatic R rating. You ask us to ignore the preferences of America's parents and our own ratings rules because of the merit of this movie. Yet were the MPAA and NATO to waive the ratings rules whenever we believed that a particular movie had merit, or was somehow more important than other movies, we would no longer be neutral parties applying consistent standards, but rather censors of content based on personal mores.

You recently released the award-winning movie "King's Speech" and must know the language rules very well. You should not have been surprised at the rating for "Bully."

I have nothing but tremendous respect for you and the work of TWC. Our industry is so much the better for your involvement. But if you decide to withdraw your support and participation in the rating system, and begin to release movies without ratings, I will have no choice but to encourage my theater owner members to treat unrated movies from The Weinstein Company in the same manner as they treat unrated movies from anyone else.

In most cases, that means enforcement as though the movies were rated NC-17 where no one under the age of 18 can be admitted even with accompanying parents or guardians.

Thank you for your consideration of these thoughts. And the best of luck to you on Sunday.

Sincerely yours,

John Fithian
President & CEO

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