Producer Harvey Weinstein lost his battle with the MPAA to get The King’s Speech‘s rating lowered from an “R” to a “PG-13″. The film received an “R” rating because of one scene where Edward VI (Colin Firth) says “Fuck” a lot and as we all know, if anyone under the age of 17 hears the word “fuck” more than once in a movie, they will turn to a life of prostitution. Last week, we reported that Weinstein was going to respond to the MPAA’s stupid decision in kind by re-cutting the movie. Now it looks like he’s might be planning to out-moron the MPAA by “bleeping” the film. Director Tom Hooper tells EW, “I wouldn’t support cutting the film in any way. I think we looked at whether it’s possible to bleep out the f—s and stuff, but I’m not going to actually cut that part.” And star Helena Bonham Carter says, “I think they said they were going to put the bleeps.”
Hit the jump for why I think this may be one of Weinstein’s clever marketing ploys.
Harvey Weinstein is (in)famous for two things: taking movies away from filmmakers and re-cutting them and campaigning for Oscars. It’s possible he may be using his reputation for the former to bolster the latter. While The King’s Speech is now the clear favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars, the whole point of the Oscar race is to drive box office. The movie may have awards clout, but Weinstein wants to find a way drive moviegoers to see the flick and if the rumor starts circulating that he’s “considering” re-cutting the film and bleeping it, then it creates a perception of scarcity. People who write about movies talk more about a potential re-cut of The King’s Speech and readers think they need to see the movie before an edited one takes its place.
Of course, this is just a theory. Perhaps Weinstein really is going to release a “family-friendly” version of the film. But that could cause serious concerns among filmmakers because it would go far beyond simply re-cutting a film. It’s no longer subtraction but substitution. If I were a filmmaker and The Weinstein Company offered to distribute my movie, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would “clean” it up. We’ll see how this story develops as The King’s Speech marches towards cleaning up at the Oscars on February 27th.