AMC Theaters to Screen Bully with Parental Permission - Angers Parents Television Council

It was announced earlier this week that Bully, The Weinstein Company’s (TWC) controversial documentary that the MPAA slapped with an R rating over six swear words will be released in theaters in its uncut, original form as unrated on March 30. Common Sense Media --an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan group--also bestowed a “Pause 13+” on the mega-hit The Hunger Games, in which teens in a post-apocalyptic world slay each other in a Roman Colosseum style arena. The MPAA gave The Hunger Games a PG-13 rating but refused to lower Bully’s rating from R to PG-13.
By: Tracy E. Gilchrist
March 28 2012 4:50 PM

It was announced earlier this week that Bully, The Weinstein Company’s (TWC) controversial documentary that the MPAA slapped with an R rating over six swear words will be released in theaters in its uncut, original form as unrated on March 30, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Now, AMC theaters has vowed to release the film unrated but with the caveat that teens can gain entrance to the film with a permission slip from parents, a move that has angered the Parents Television Council (PTC), as AMC’s decision flies in the face of major theater chains’ policy to not screen films that the MPAA has not rated, EW reported Tuesday. 

“AMC will be presenting Bully…as not rated,” said the theater-chain in a statement, according to EW.  “Guests younger than 17 can see the film if they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian, or if they present a signed parental permission slip.”

While AMC’s decision to screen the film involves teens obtaining parental permission it was not enough to keep the PTC from getting involved.  The PTC released a statement asserting that, “This move (of AMC's), regardless of intentions, sets a precedent that threatens to derail the entire ratings system.”

The film has come under fire for its realistic, and somewhat brutal, portrayal of the bullying epidemic that is plaguing the American public school system.  The doc follows several children and their families, and offers its viewers an unsettling glimpse into what it’s really like for the victims who come face to face with their tormentors on a daily basis.

Bully was assigned the adult rating of R by the MPAA in early March, which forced TWC to respond by filing a formal appeal for the more acceptable PG-13 rating. 

Over a half a million petitioners signed former bullying victim Katy Butler’s petition on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower their rating.  The MPAA failed to change the rating, and in response, TWC opted to release the film in its entirety as unrated.

While TWC will release the film minus an MPAA rating the company has chosen to rate the film with Common Sense Media’s “Pause 13+” on all of its promotional materials.

EW noted that Common Sense Media --an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan group--also bestowed a “Pause 13+” on the mega-hit The Hunger Games, in which teens in a post-apocalyptic world slay each other in a Roman Colosseum style arena. The MPAA gave The Hunger Games a PG-13 rating but refused to lower Bully’s rating from R to PG-13.

Still, PTC head Tim Winter took the opportunity to blast TWC, the makers of Bully, and not the MPAA for why people might not get a chance to see the film.

“It is unfortunate that the serious problem of schoolyard and online bullying is being overshadowed by a misguided and manufactured controversy over the MPAA rating,” Winter said in a statement. “It’s even more unfortunate that the MPAA ratings system, which only exists as a tool to help parents make informed viewing decisions for their own families, is being deliberately undermined by Weinstein and his colleagues in the entertainment industry, and that their efforts may well spell the demise of a system that has benefited parents and families for over forty years.”

Bully is scheduled for release March 30, at the Angelika Film Center and AMC Lincoln Square in NYC, and at The Landmark, ArcLight Hollywood and AMC Century City in Los Angeles, and will expand nationwide in the coming weeks. 

Get the AMC permission slip here. 

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