By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THEATRE OWNERS THREATENS NC-17 RATING STATUS FOR BULLY

THREAT COMES AFTER THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY’S MPAA APPEAL TO LOWER R RATING IN AN EFFORT TO USE FILM AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR CHILDREN

New York, NY – February 28, 2012 – National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) President & CEO 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. The NC-17 threat comes in response to The Weinstein Company’s (TWC) suggestion to release BULLY, which has the sole purpose of educating children and highlighting how bullying has become a national crisis, in theaters unrated after the MPAA failed to lower the R rating given for some language.

Both fathers of four children, TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein see this as first and foremost a personal matter and one deserving its due respect from the MPAA and NATO.

“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, we need to demand our community takes action,” said Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

In response to NATO’s letter, TWC 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.

“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,” said Glasser.

TWC’s sentiments are shared by would-be viewers of the film. A Michigan high school student who is passionate about this cause recently began an online petition, which currently has more than 94,000 signatures, to urge the MPAA the give BULLY its deserved PG-13 rating. The petition is growing by thousands as each hour passes.

LETTER FROM NATO PRESIDENT & CEO JOHN FITHIAN

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
NATO
* * *

TRAILER

SYNOPSIS
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Safe and Drug-Free Schools estimates that over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.  In the new documentary BULLY, award-winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch (AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY) brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.  Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY, which can be found on Twitter @bullymovie, opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.   It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.

ABOUT THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and distribution company launched in October 2005 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films in 1979. TWC also encompasses Dimension Films, the genre label founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, which has released such popular franchises as SCREAM, SPY KIDS and SCARY MOVIE. Together TWC and Dimension Films have released a broad range of mainstream, genre and specialty films that have been commercial and critical successes, including Tom Hooper’s THE KING’S SPEECH, winner of four 2011 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture.

Since 2005, TWC and Dimension Films have released such films as GRINDHOUSE; I’M NOT THERE; THE GREAT DEBATERS; VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA; THE READER; THE ROAD; HALLOWEEN; THE PAT TILLMAN STORY; PIRANHA 3D; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS; A SINGLE MAN; BLUE VALENTINE; THE COMPANY MEN; MIRAL; SCRE4M; SUBMARINE; DIRTY GIRL; APOLLO 18; OUR IDIOT BROTHER; I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT; SARAH’S KEY; and SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD IN 4D. Currently in release are MY WEEK WITH MARILYN; THE ARTIST; THE IRON LADY; CORIOLANUS; W.E.; and UNDEFEATED. Upcoming releases include BULLY and THE INTOUCHABLES. Recently wrapped was SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and currently in production is DJANGO UNCHAINED.

TWC is also active in television production, led by former Miramax Films President of Production and current President of Television Meryl Poster, with credits including the Emmy® nominated and Peabody Award winning reality series Project Runway, spin-off series Project Accessory and Project Runway All Stars, the VH1 reality series Mob Wives, and the critically acclaimed HBO comedy/crime series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency which also received a Peabody Award. The company is currently in pre-production on the martial-arts epic Marco Polo for Starz as well as production on the second season of Mob Wives and the newest installment in the series’ franchise Mob Wives Chicago. TWC additionally has 17 series in different stages of development, including The Nanny Diaries, being adapted for ABC by Amy Sherman Palladino (Gilmore Girls).

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One Response to “NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THEATRE OWNERS THREATENS NC-17 RATING STATUS FOR BULLY”

  1. TC Kirkham says:

    IMHO, Mr. Fithian is getting involved where he has no business getting involved. The MPAA Ratings system is NOT legally binding nor is it legally enforcable unless there are city or state laws giving local law enforcement the ability to enforce it. We plan on getting into this in the near future on our site and Subject:CINEMA show. Legally, Fithian has no leg to stand on.

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DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato

DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato