After online protests, “Bully” to be released unrated

Standing up against the MPAA, the Weinstein Company will leave viewer discretion for its documentary in the hands of theater owners. 


Fernando Alfonso III


Published Mar 27, 2012   Updated Mar 3, 2020, 7:28 am CST

The Weinstein Company has decided to release the award-winning documentary, Bully, as unrated.

The move leaves the “decision in the hands of theater owners” on whether or not they’d like to show the film, reported USA Today.

The decision by the Weinstein Company comes after about four weeks of protesting against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for giving the documentary an R rating because of its “brief vulgar language,” reported ABC News.

The film follows students from Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Iowa who were bullied on an almost daily basis during the 2009-2010 school year.

An online petition started by Katy Butler, a junior at Greenhills High School in Michigan who has been bullied, to have the films rating lowered has collected more than 485,000 signatures and support from celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Ellen DeGeneres. The latter had the teeanger on her show, reported ABC.

AMC Theaters CEO Gerry Lopez said in a statement that its theaters will show the film:

“To automatically default Bully is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating … is a mistake. … The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke.”

The Bully news shot to the top of Reddit’s r/movies section where more than 450 people championed the ratings change. One high-school teacher, Somsta, plans on someday showing the film in school.

“I’m a high school teacher and this decision makes me smile. The school board says I’m not allowed to show R rated movies in class and I have to send home a permission slip for PG and PG-13 movies. Making the movie ‘unrated’ is the equivalent of a G rating and I don’t need parents to sign anything.”

It’s a symbolic move for the film company, proving with the unrated release the importance of taking a stand against bullying—even if it’s done by the MPAA.

Photo via @Joel_Courtney

Share this article
*First Published: Mar 27, 2012, 12:45 pm CDT