Director Lee Hirsch and The Weinstein Company have announced that the documentary "Bully" will receive a "PG-13" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in time for the film's April 13 expansion to 55 markets. Despite three minor edits, a major scene in the movie that had been at the forefront of the film's ratings battle will be kept intact.
The MPAA had been at the center of an extraordinarily popular online petition on Change.org, started by bullied high school student Katy Butler, urging the MPAA to drop the film's original "R" rating, which was given because of some explicit language used by bullies in the movie. More than 500,000 people, including 35 members of Congress and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Meryl Streep, expressed their support for Butler's petition.
"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," said Butler, who started her campaign on Change.org after experiencing severe bullying in school. "The brief usage of language in this film reflects what so many kids hear each day in school when they're being bullied. No one removes it from the halls and playgrounds of schools."
Butler said that the awareness her petition campaign created around bullying shows that there is a national movement of people who care about this issue and won't let it be silenced.
"I wish 'Bully' was around when I was in middle school, and experienced some of the worst bullying I could imagine," said Butler. "But it makes me incredibly happy that kids in middle school and high school today will be able to see a film like 'Bully' and share that experience with their friends."
Butler's campaign on Change.org attracted support from major international celebrities, with DeGeneres inviting Butler to appear on her show and urging her viewers to support the petition, and Streep, Johnny Depp, Demi Lovato, Randy Jackson, Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa, Justin Bieber, and Drew Brees all encouraging their fans to sign Katy's petition or show support to "Bully."
Butler's petition also gained support from 35 Members of Congress, who endorsed a congressional sign-on letter issued by Rep. Mike Honda (D-California) urging the rating change.