The controversy surrounding the film, which profiled bullied kids and the families of children who have committed suicide, has nothing to do with its merit: Most agree that the documentary explores a worthy topic. But “Bully” has been in the middle of a battle between the MPAA and the Weinstein Company over a handful of “F” words and an R rating.The two sides failed to reach an agreement.
Now “Bully” will open in five theaters, including two AMC locations, Friday as unrated, with the option to show the film to minors left to the theaters’ discretion.
AMC released a statement Tuesday, saying the theater chain will show the film as not rated. “Guests younger than 17 who want to see ‘Bully’ at AMC can do so when accompanied by a parent or guardian or with a parental permission slip provided” to the box office, according to the statement. The slip can be obtained at AMC’s Web site here.
“We believe this documentary has a significantly relevant message for a broad audience, which includes teenagers,” Sun Dee Larson, Vice President of Film and Marketing Communications for AMC Theatres, told Celebritology by phone. “We strongly support the MPAA and the ratings system. But we believe that this movie should be viewed by anybody that can benefit from the message.”
The Angelika Film Center will also show the film Friday. John Cruz, manager of the center, told the New York Daily News he will make a decision about whether or not to allow minors to see the film after he screens it Thursday.
“From my understanding, in terms that the goal of the film is to teach kids about bullying, I don’t think I’ll have any fear of selling tickets to high school students,” Cruz told the Daily News.
The ArcLight Hollywood and Landmark Theatre in Los Angeles are the other two locations releasing “Bully” this week. Request for comment on how the film will be treated has not been returned from either location. According to its Web site, Landmark will show “Bully” at seven additional locations in April.
While the film will not carry a rating from the MPAA, it will have one from the advocacy group Common Sense Media. The nonprofit, which views itself as an alternative to the MPAA, gave “Bully” a rating of “Pause 13 +.” The group explains the “pause” part of the rating thusly: “Know your child, some content may not be right for some kids.”
(For reference, Common Sense also gave “The Hunger Games,” which shows child-on-child violence, a “Pause 13+” rating.)