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The MPAA Being a 'Bully': 10 Films That Appealed Their Ratings

By Aaron Bogert, Peter Knegt, Dana Harris, Bryce J. Renninger and Nigel M. Smith | Indiewire March 29, 2012 at 1:23PM

Anti-bullying documentary "Bully" has drummed up the type of controversy most indies only dream of, thanks to Harvey Weinstein's much-publicized efforts to fight the film's R-rating in favor of a more teen-friendly PG-13. Despite Weinstein's best efforts and the rallying cries of his celeb pals, the MPAA didn't change their tune, leaving Weinstein to release the film unrated this Friday.
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"The King's Speech" (2010)

Perhaps the tamest film on this list, one might recall that in the midst of the "Blue Valentine" appeal, The Weinstein Company were waging a concurrent battle for their Oscar hungry "King's Speech." The MPAA gave the film an 'R' rating for profanity (one might recall the scene when Colin Firth utters the f-word over and over). As 'R' ratings go, this made it so no one under age of 17 could see the film without an adult. Comparatively, the British ratings board had given the film a much milder '12A' rating, allowing anyone over the age of 12 to see "The King's Speech" adult-free. The Weinsteins appealed the rating, but the MPAA stood film. As a result, they released an alternate version of the film that muted out some of the profanities. Interestingly, that version would go on to gross only $3,344,306, compared to the 'R' rated version's $135,453,143. [Peter Knegt]


"Natural Born Killers" (1994)

Oliver Stone’s 1994 film about Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), a serial killer couple on a cross-country murder spree is perhaps the controversial director’s most notorious film (no small feat). The film initially received an NC-17 and had a gruelingly long battle with the MPAA in order to secure an R rating. As the film is about serial killers, it unsurprisingly depicts a large amount of graphic violence, which the ratings board strongly objected to. Mickey and Mallory are given massive press coverage in the film, with Stone’s intention being to lampoon the media circus surrounding then recent violent crimes in America, which may have actually hurt the film during the rating process. The O.J. Simpson murders had occurred just two months before the film’s release and it wouldn’t be surprising if this was one of the factors which made the ratings board crack down so harshly on the film. They were more than likely anxious about seeing similar events parodied in such an extreme fashion. In the end, Stone had to cut out four minutes of footage before the ratings board would give the film an R rating and Warner Bros. would agree to release it. Thankfully, the home video market exists though and Stone’s uncut version of the film was made available for the VHS release and it now easy to find on DVD/Blu-ray. [Aaron Bogert]

This article is related to: The Weinstein Company, Bully, MPAA





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