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Producers Guild to honor 'Bully' with Stanley Kramer Award

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Is Bully headed for an Oscar nomination?

Given this announcement from the Producers Guild of America, a Best Documentary nod certainly seems likely. The PGA revealed today that Bully, an unflinching look at harassment in schools, will receive the 2013 Stanley Kramer Award at the guild’s awards ceremony in January. The award honors productions or individuals “whose achievement or contribution illuminates and raises public awareness of important social issues,” according to a release.
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'Bully,' 'How to Survive a Plague' advance in voting for Oscar documentary nominations

Another day, another spate of movies advancing in the Oscar race for 2013.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced that 15 documentary features — including highly touted anti-bullying film Bully, How to Survive a Plague, about AIDS activism, Searching for Sugar Man, about the search for an elusive 1970s rock musician, and The Invisible War, about sexual assault within the U.S. military — will advance in the voting process for next year’s 85th annual Academy Awards, whittled down from 126 qualifying movies.

From those 15, documentary branch members of the Academy will choose five as official nominees. Oscar nominations will be announced live on Thursday, Jan. 10. The awards ceremony takes place Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, airing live on ABC.

Check out the slate of 15 documentary films, below: READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Hunger Games' wins with $21.5M, passes $500M worldwide; 'Three Stooges' and 'Cabin in the Woods' debut decently

For the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games easily led the domestic box office, holding off three new wide releases from the top spot.

Lionsgate’s $90 million blockbuster adaptation earned $21.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, marking a slim 32 percent drop from last weekend. All told, The Hunger Games has earned $337.1 million after 24 days and seems headed for a final domestic total of about $375 million. The only other 2012 releases likely to reach those sorts of numbers are franchise films The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. READ FULL STORY

Parents Television Council criticizes MPAA for 'Bully' special treatment

After yesterday’s surprising announcement that the MPAA granted a PG-13 rating to a re-edited cut of The Weinstein Company’s Bully, the Parents Television Council is calling out the film ratings organization for its “special treatment” of the teen bullying doc.

“When it comes to the MPAA’s content rating system, what was, at one point, a standard has devolved into a double-standard and now into no standard,” said PTC President Tim Winter in a press release. “Moving the yardstick from one ‘f-bomb’ to three essentially removes the yardstick altogether.”

Winter is referring to the newly edited version of the documentary, which managed to earn its desired PG-13 rating after cutting three of the film’s six F-words (while keeping intact a key scene, involving a teenager being harangued on a school bus, which featured the other three uses of the word).

At the core of the PTC’s argument is an accusation against TWC that the insistence on a lowered rating was purely for profits, rather than a genuine desire to help children. The PTC split its disdain equally between Weinstein and the MPAA, criticizing the former for not waiving admission for children, and calling for the latter to reform its content rating system “so it reflects the sense of the nation and not just the sense of Hollywood powerbrokers.”

The interesting note here is that the PTC had previously warned that releasing the film as an unrated feature, as was initially TWC’s plan, would threaten to undermine the entire MPAA system. Now that Bully will in fact be released with an MPAA rating, the Council is still unhappy and has shifted its protest towards urging the organization “to allow greater input from the public rather than just Hollywood insiders.” It appears as if the Council would only have been happy with an R rating for the film, or no release at all.

Read more:
MPAA grants slightly re-edited ‘Bully’ a PG-13 rating; director Lee Hirsch calls it an ‘historic decision’
‘Bully’ producer responds to allegations that the doc ignored key information — EXCLUSIVE
‘Bully’ will make adults squirm and many others cry — including the 11-year-old who Justin Bieber sent

MPAA grants slightly re-edited 'Bully' a PG-13 rating; director Lee Hirsch calls it an 'historic decision'

In a surprising turn of events, the Weinstein Company announced Thursday that a re-edited version of Bully has been granted a PG-13 rating by the MPAA.

The edits consisted of removing three of the movie’s six F-words. These edits do not involve a key scene in which teenager Alex Libby was verbally harassed on a school bus — that scene, which was at the center of the MPAA rating controversy, has been left fully intact and unedited. Instead, the cuts came from other moments, including one use of “motherf—er” toward the beginning of the film, director Lee Hirsch told EW. The remaining two F-words cut were heard in the background of other scenes. READ FULL STORY

'Bully' producer responds to allegations that the doc ignored key information -- EXCLUSIVE

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Critics everywhere have hailed Bully as an important, engaging documentary. EW’s Owen Gleiberman calls it “sensitive and eye-opening”; the film has also earned a near-perfect 93 percent “Fresh” rating from the reviews aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes. But in an article posted late last week, Slate‘s Emily Bazelon alleged that some crucial parts of Bully are “utterly one-sided” and “factually questionable.” Her piece focused on Tyler Long, one of the doc’s featured subjects; when he was just 17, Long took his own life, apparently because he was bullied by his classmates.

But according to Bazelon, that isn’t the whole story. She wrote that Tyler also suffered from ADHD, bipolar disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome; additionally, his girlfriend broke up with him a few weeks before his suicide. It seems likely that these factors contributed to Tyler’s decision to commit suicide, Bazelon wrote. She asserted that by not mentioning them — and by possibly exaggerating the treatment Tyler received in school — director Lee Hirsch and producer Cynthia Lowen oversimplified and distorted the facts to create a smoother narrative.
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Box office report: 'The Hunger Games' stays on top with $61.1 million, holds off 'Wrath' and 'Mirror Mirror'

Not even Olympian gods and a very wicked witch could slow down The Hunger Games‘ exemplary box office run.

The smash adaptation, which scored the third best opening of all time last weekend with $152.2 million, dropped by 60 percent in its second frame to $61.1 million. While that drop may seem hefty, it was all but expected given last weekend’s unbelievable numbers, and it was in the same range as the second weekend drops of comparable blockbusters like Iron Man 2 (-59 percent) and Spider-Man 3 (-62 percent), and, in fact, better than many others like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (-70 percent). READ FULL STORY

'Bully': Carmike Cinemas to screen unrated doc as if it were R rated

Carmike Cinemas, the country’s fourth-largest movie theater chain, will release the contentious documentary Bully as an R-rated film, as it was initially designated by the Motion Picture Association of America.

A rep for Carmike Cinemas told EW: “It’s just like any other movie content that’s out there being distributed. It was originally rated an R picture. We certainly respect the MPAA and all that they do and how they evaluate and review pictures, and that’s the rating that it received, and that’s how we’ll handle it. It was rated R and that’s how we’ll present it in theaters.” The decision means minors will need to be with a parent or guardian to see the film.  READ FULL STORY

'Bully' will open with a wave of publicity, but what are the box-office prospects for an unrated doc?

Releasing a theatrical film without an MPAA rating is a challenge, to say the least. Many major theatrical chains will not screen unsanctioned films, so it was a shock to many when The Weinstein Company elected to release Bully, its heartwrenching and critically lauded documentary about the timely issue of teen bullying, as an unrated film rather than submit to the MPAA’s R rating. TWC argued that the R rating — presumably applied for the film’s repeated profanity — would exclude the very audience that most needed to see this documentary — high-school teens. Their end-around, buttressed by a national online campaign and celebrity support, has been labeled a threat to the industry’s ratings system by the right-leaning Parents Television Council, which called on all movie theaters to ostracize the unrated film. But some theaters have refused to bow to the pressure: Bully will open Friday in five theaters, and TWC has plans to expand to as many as 150 theaters in coming weeks.

But what exactly are the financial prospects for an unrated documentary? READ FULL STORY

'Bully' to play in Regal Theaters, treated as an R rated film

Regal Cinemas, the largest theater chain in the country, will play the unrated documentary Bully in its theaters, the company announced today. “Regal intends to play the film and respect the original R rating decision of the MPAA,” says Regal spokesperson Dick Westerling. “We will treat the film like it was rated R.” The decision means children 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to see the film.  READ FULL STORY

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