Harvey Weinstein has a victory against the Motion Picture Association of America’s movie ratings board, successfully getting them to reverse their R rating of the upcoming drama Philomena and re-rate the film with a PG-13.
Last week, Weinstein revealed that he was fighting the R rating that the film about an elderly Irish woman (Dame Judi Dench) looking for the child whom she gave up for adoption five decades earlier received for its two uses of the word “fuck.” One of the very few firm rules that the MPAA has for in terms of how they rate films is that one f-bomb means at least an automatic PG-13, more than one is an automatic R. It was this rule that Weinstein ran afoul of the MPAA in 2010 over their R rating for The King’s Speech, which had one scene which featured a string of the epithet although the rest of the film was considered fairly benign. In an interview with CBS This Morning last week, the studio honcho noted that in the UK, the film was rated with a far less restrictive rating that would allow all general audiences.
Steve Coogan, who costars in the film and also served as a producer, joined Weinstein Company lawyer Bert Fields on Tuesday to present their case for lowering the rating. He told the LA Times that he and Fields showed how the ratings board had given an PG-13 rating to other films that featured far greater and more casual use of profanities in films like The Social Network and Jobs and that the use of the two f-bombs in Philomena is important from the standpoint of characterization.
When my character uses profanity in Philomena it reflects badly on his character. It’s not a glorification of the profanity, as it is in the other films. Ours are used very notably for a reason. They are uttered by my character to demonstrate his short temper and somewhat volatile nature — his anger. That stands in stark contrast to Judi Dench’s character, who has grace and dignity.
It is nice to see the MPAA reverse their ratings decision, as they don’t seem to do it too often. Weinstein did not have this luck when he challenged their rating for The King’s Speech back in 2011 and after the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture he released an edited version that was given a PG-13 rating.
Philomena is set to open in limited release on November 22.