Following its initial theatrical release as an unrated feature, Bully has been given a rating of PG-13 from the Motion Picture Association of America, which will allow children under 17 to buy a ticket without parental permission and for the documentary to be screened in schools as an educational tool.
Since the initial announcement that the film would be given an R rating, a number of voices have asked for the film’s importance to be recognized, including organizations, celebrities, and real teens who had experience bullying first hand like out high school student Katy Butler (pictured above with Harvey Weinstein).
At the GLAAD Media Awards in New York on March 24, Harvey Weinstein presented a Special Recognition award to high school student Katy Butler for the petition she began with Change.org to have the film's rating changed. GLAAD has worked to spread the film's important message, including a new PSA series starring Glee’s Naya Rivera and Cory Montieth and Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino released last week.
The change was made following the removal of several instances of the F-word, but leaving intact a particularly powerful and important scene of teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus. In a press release, distributor The Weinstein Company lauded the MPAA's decision, calling it a victory "for the parents, educators, lawmakers, and most importantly, children, everywhere who have been fighting for months for the appropriate PG-13 rating without cutting some of the most sensitive moments."
GLAAD's spokesperson Herndon Graddick, said "This new PG-13 rating is a tremendous step forward for continuing the national conversation around bullying with the audience that needs to take part in it the most: our nation's youth. The MPAA did the right thing in granting the new rating and for recognizing Bully's real potential as a tool for sparking dialogue and creating positive change for better safety in our schools."
TWC's Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein credited MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd by name, saying "“Senator Dodd is a hero for championing this cause, and the MPAA showed great courage by not cutting the scene everyone has been fighting to keep. Senator Dodd’s support gives voice to the millions of children who suffer from bullying, and on behalf of TWC, the filmmakers, the families in the film and the millions of children and parents who will now see this film, I thank him for recognizing that this very real issue cannot afford to go unnoticed.”
In the same release, Katy Butler also thanked the MPAA, saying "On behalf of the more than half a million supporters who joined me on Change.org in petitioning the MPAA, I want to express how grateful I am not only to the MPAA for lowering the rating without cutting a vital scene, but to all of the people who used their voices to put a national spotlight on this movie and its mission.” Butler's next role will be as an ambassador for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which she and the filmmakers hope to see passed nationwide.
The film will expand to 55 markets with its new rating on April 13.