Bullying Movie Is Released With No Rating

The Motion Picture Association of America was going to give Bully an R rating for language, but the movie's producer decided to send it out with no rating. The nation's second-largest cinema chain AMC will show it, but Cinemark, the third-largest chain will not.

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And since the film "Bully" is being released without a rating, we wonder just what that means for a film. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Movie producers apply for a rating from the MPAA's ratings board. But they don't have to use it. So the Weinstein Company has every right to release their film "Bully" without one.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BULLY")

KELBY JOHNSON: They made it very clear that I wasn't welcomed at the school.

BLAIR: Kelby Johnson of Tuttle, Oklahoma.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "BULLY")

JOHNSON: And another teacher told me how they burned fags and kept talking about it with me in the classroom, and everyone was laughing.

BLAIR: The MPAA says it gave "Bully" an R rating because of language. An R rating means that to see the film anyone under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. But the Weinstein Company thinks they'll reach more teenagers with no rating at all. Big theater chains often won't even show unrated films. Of the three largest, the Regal chain has said it will show "Bully" in four locations, but treat it as though it was rated R. Cinemark will not show "Bully." AMC says they'll show it at theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Sun Dee Larson is vice president of film marketing for AMC.

SUN DEE LARSON: It has a significantly relevant message for a broad audience, you know, including teenagers, which, you know, is part of the reason that we want it to be viewed by anybody that thinks they can benefit.

BLAIR: Larson says anyone under 17 must be accompanied by an adult or have permission from a parent. The young people featured in the film are from Oklahoma, Iowa, Georgia and Mississippi. So far there are plans to show "Bully" in only one of those states, when it opens in Atlanta, Georgia in April.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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