POSTED: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 8:13pm
UPDATED: Sunday, April 1, 2012 - 10:08am
Last week "The Hunger Games" had one of the biggest openings in movie history.
The futuristic film, about teens forced to fight each other to death, carried a PG-13 rating.
This week a new documentary about real life teen bullying, called "Bully", is opening amidst controversy about its rating.
"Bully" spotlights five families dealing with a problem the U.S. Department of Education
says impacts one in three middle and high school students.
But profanity in "Bully" prompted an "R" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.
That prevents a large portion of director Lee Hirsch's target audience, kids under 17, from seeing the film unless accompanied by a parent.
"The Canadian Ratings board gave the film a PG, precisely because they wanted kids to be able to see it. The MPAA has taken a difference stance," notes Entertainment Weekly senior editor Thom Geier.
Petitions and appeals failed to change that stance, and Hirsch refused to edit out the profanity, so "Bully" is being released unrated.
That means individual theater chains have to decide whether to show it.
Hirsch hopes audiences receive "Bully"'s message, regardless of the film's rating.
"Bully" debuts in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, and around the country in mid-April.
Many theaters are opting to treat "Bully" as an R-release, but so far, Cinemark, the nation's third largest theater chain, is adhering to its policy of not screening unrated films.