The Weinstein Company (TWC) is preparing to lock horns with the MPAA over the ratings for its two top awards season contenders.
Harvey Weinstein has assembled a team of attorneys to fight the R certification for The King’s Speech and Blue Valentine’s NC-17 rating. David Boies serves as legal advisor on both films, Bert Fields is overseeing the appeal for The King’s Speech and Alan R Friedman is the lead attorney for Blue Valentine.
However Screendaily understands that TWC accepted the rating for The King’s Speech on September 10, which could impact on the validity of its appeal.
Under the CARA (Classification And Rating Administration) rules: “An appeal from a rating certified by CARA must be instituted: 1) not more than twenty-five business days after the date on which the rating is certified by CARA; and, 2) not less than twenty-five business days before the initial public exhibition or distribution of that version of the motion picture in the United States.”
TWC has scheduled The King’s Speech for release over the Thanksgiving holiday next weekend. It is understood that the chairperson of the appeals board may grant a waiver of these deadlines only when the inability to comply with these deadlines is due to “circumstances beyond the control of the appellant or its agents.”
In a statement issued today  Harvey Weinstein said: “While we respect the MPAA, I think we can all agree that we are living with an outdated ratings system that gives torture porn, horror and ultraviolent films the same rating as films with so-called inappropriate language.”
The King’s Speech drew an R rating due to a scene where Colin Firth in the role of King George VI swears repeatedly during a speech therapy session designed to help him with a debilitating stammer. The film carries a 12A rating in the UK, where audiences will be told there is bad language “used in the context of speech therapy.”
Weinstein has requested a special hearing because the film is within 25 days of its theatrical release. “We feel that school kids in America would otherwise miss out on the opportunity to see this film which at its core is a film about overcoming adversity, based on moral themes of friendship and self belief,” producer Iain Canning said.
“I hope that language can be judged by its context just as violence is currently judged in context,” director Tom Hooper said. “The f-word in The King’s Speech is not being used in its sexual sense, or in its aggressive sense, but as a release mechanism to help a man overcome a stammer in the context of speech therapy, in a scene that is also very funny.
TWC has changed its approach towards the NC-17 certification for Blue Valentine, which seemingly drew the rating in response to a sex scene between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who play a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks.
Weinstein and his lieutenants will not now release an unrated version. Instead they have opted to accept the rating as a precursor to an appeal based on what sources claimed was overwhelming support for the film. Blue Valentine is scheduled for release on December 31 and will expand nationwide in January.
“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen,” Gosling said. “The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex.”
“The MPAA’s decision on Blue Valentine unmasks a taboo in our culture, that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalised one,” Williams added. “Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality.”