Regal Entertainment Group, the largest chain of movie theaters in the United States, will treat “Bully” as an R-rated film when the documentary opens in a handful of its locations next month.
Dick Westerling, Regal’s senior vice president of marketing and advertising, said Wednesday afternoon that the multiplexes will “respect” the MPAA’s R-rating for the film, which has been protested by its distributor, the Weinstein Company, as well as director Lee Hirsch, the film’s subjects, celebrities, politicians and others.
The MPAA R-rating means no one under 17 is admitted without a parent or guardian.
Weinstein announced earlier this week that the company plans to release “Bully” with no MPAA rating, leaving theaters to make their own decisions about admitting younger audience members.
According to the Regal Entertainment Group’s Web site, people under the age of 17 must be accompanied by the adult who purchased their ticket in order to attend an R-rated film.
That approach differs from the “Bully” policy at AMC Theatres, which announced Tuesday that minors may attend “Bully” unaccompanied if a parent or guardian signs a permission slip. Landmark Theatres, an arthouse theater chain, has not responded to Celebritology’s requests for comment.
The Weinstein Company fought for a PG-13 rating for “Bully,” a film that chronicles the abuse afflicted on five American teens, two of whom committed suicide due to prolonged bullying. Profanities — particularly repeated uses of the f-word — were the primary reason the MPAA was not willing to soften its R-rating and allow younger teens, who are the stars of the film and the audience the documentary most hopes to influence, to see the film unsupervised.
“Bully” opens in five locations this Friday, then rolls out in wider release on April 13.
Westerling said “Bully” has been booked at four Regal locations beginning April 13, but could not specify which ones.