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Last month, Harvey Weinstein did something incredible for the film industry. After seeing one of his company's best films, Blue Valentine, get slapped with an unjust NC-17 rating by the MPAA, he personally argued for the film and got the rating overturned. It was an incredible win over an unjust system that is riddled with ridiculous and outdated standards. It was a giant step forward, but now he wants to take five giant steps back.
The LA Times is reporting that Weinstein is contemplating editing The King's Speech in order to get its R-rating reduced to PG-13 and increase the market able to see it. The reason that the film was given the restricted label in the first place is because of a scene in which the Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, has King George VI, played by Colin Firth, spurt out numerous curse words in order to help him get over his stutter. Back in November, Weinstein had his lawyers challenge the MPAA's rating, though, unlike with Blue Valentine, he was unsuccessful. The studio head says that the motivation behind the edits comes from looking at the film's box office numbers in Britain, where the film has a 12-and-over rating, which allows it to be a family movie.
"The British numbers are huge because the rating lets families see the movie together. [Director Tom Hooper] and I are trying to find a unique way to do this that keeps his vision of the movie."
This is a terrible, terrible idea. As far as I know, there is no difference between the cut being shown in British theaters vs. US theaters, meaning that this isn't a problem of content, but rather an issue of bullshit standards and qualifications by the MPAA. This would perhaps be understandable if we still lived in the 1920s, but I've personally never met a 13 year old kid who is completely unaware of the existence of words like "fuck" and "shit." Is there an implication here that children in Britain are more mature than kids in America? This is just further proof that the MPAA board is basically a censorship board.
But you want to know what the real kicker is? The King's Speech has already made $59 million on a $15 million budget domestically and, according to figures recently released by Fandango, ticket sales for the film have gone up 76% since yesterday's Academy Award nominations announcement. This isn't censorship to help better promote a fantastic film, but, rather, censorship in the name of greed.
In recent years there has been a terrible trend of treating R-rated films as though they have NC-17 ratings and it needs to stop. With a parent or guardian present, anyone under 17 has admittance to an R-rated film and considering the quality of The King's Speech, I can't imagine any parent refusing to go see it with their children simply because of a few curse words. Thanks to the internet, there's an unending amount of information available about every single film ever made to help people decide what movies they should go see. Hell, the rating for The King's Speech, which is on every single one of the movie's posters, says that the rating is simply because of "some language." An R-rating isn't stopping any informed family from going to see any movie.
Earlier this morning, Weinstein Films, via their Twitter feed (@WeinsteinFilms) sent out a message reading "Should #KingsSpeech be re-edited to fit a lower MPAA rating? Tweet us your thoughts!" The message has since been deleted from the feed, but don't let that stop you from letting them know what you think. Click here to send a message to the studio and request that they not bow to the MPAA and censor such a great film.