'Bully' Fails MPAA Bid, Settles For 'Unrated' Release

The Weinstein Co. and makers of the buzzed-about documentary "Bully" didn't get exactly what they wanted, but will settle for a more ambiguous compromise.

The Motion Picture Association of America recently denied the Weinstein Co.'s request that the regulatory board reduce film's "R" rating based reportedly on one scene's explicit language to a "PG-13". As a result, the group will release the film instead with an "Unrated" label when it hits New York and Los Angeles theaters March 30, Reuters reported early Tuesday.

The rating has been a touchy issue because advocates for how the film addresses America's bullying "epidemic" among its youth claim the "R" mark keeps it from the eyes of the young people who perhaps need to see it most. Speculation has been that the "R" results largely from one particular scene in which an interviewed bully utters variations of "fuck" repeatedly while describing how he would torment his victim, according to The Los Angeles Times. Under MPAA guidelines, any film containing two or more instances of the expletive - or even merely one, if it's used when describing a sexual act - must receive an "R" rating.

The outcry to lower the rating picked up steam with a Change.org petition by 17-year-old openly lesbian high school student Katy Butler. After the petition gathered more than 450,000 signees, attorneys David Boies and Ted Olsen publicly recommended taking legal action against the MPAA to force a more accessible rating.

The "R" rating would've barred not only teenaged and younger viewers from seeing it in theaters, but the movie from being shown in schools where it could've arguably made the most impact. The "Unrated" route allows audiences of all ages to be admitted, but many theaters won't carry movies without a rating.

"We believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what's right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves. We're working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country," Weinstein Co. marketing president Stephen Bruno remarked via released statement.