Sometimes the right thing happens. Harvey Weinstein milked the controversy surrounding the NC-17 rating for Blue Valentine to bring attention to the movie. Director Derek Cianfrance had refused to trim an intimate sex scene with implied oral sex between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling from the realistic relationship drama. Finally Wednesday, after Weinstein led 40 minutes of appeals arguments and screened the film at the MPAA’s Sherman Oaks offices, the MPAA appeals board overturned the rating.
Weinstein had promised the filmmakers he would not alter the film. He never prepared a cut in case the appeal did not go his way. He mentioned in his arguments to the appeals board a Twitter petition with 3000 signatures, and read several excerpts. He also credited journalists who weighed in on the issue, including The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. He also talked of a recruited screening he staged Wednesday night in Kansas City, after which he polled the crowd of 260: “What should this film be rated?” 80 % said R, he told the board. Attorneys Alan Friedman, Ethan Noble, David Boies and Bert Fields helped to prepare Weinstein’s appeal.
The rating would have severely hampered the film’s Oscar hopes; now rated R, the movie opens December 31. “The R rating overall makes it a broader picture,” said Weinstein exec David Glasser.