24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: MPAA

‘Killer Joe’ trailer: Will NC-17 boost the McConaughey pic?

May 8, 2012 |  1:52 pm

The new trailer for William Friedkin’s ‘Killer Joe,” which centers on a Dallas cop who is hired as a contract killer, features plenty of deadly serious scenes. Matthew McConaughey, as said cop, ominously flicks his lighter. Juno Temple, as the daughter of the intended victim, manages her best innocent look -- or is it her best manipulator look? Emile Hirsch gets beaten up early and often as the desperate man who hired said killer.

What isn't present in the trailer for the revenge thriller are signs of the infamous fried-chicken scene that landed  jaw-dropping reactions to the movie at the Toronto and South by Southwest film festivals  and an NC-17  from the Motion Picture Assn. (You can check out the trailer below.)

There is, however, an impossible-to-miss -- indeed, an eye-catching -- NC-17 at the top of the trailer. The rating is basically official now that the company’s upstart distributor, LD Entertainment, has decided not to cut the film ahead of its July 27 release.  (The decision contrasts with  the approach of the makers of another movie about a  killer, Jennifer Lynch’s “Chained,” which was also slapped with  an NC-17, but on which the filmmakers said they will cut an offending scene to land an R.)

Though the NC-17 may be the kiss of death for a broad commercial movie, it could be the best thing to happen to “Killer Joe.”  The movie has already generated pre-release press that would have been entirely nonexistent sans the ratings controversy. The rating could well be used as part of a banned-in-30-states type of marketing campaign (e.g., “the movie the MPAA doesn’t want you to see”).

Indeed, for a smaller release, the attention an NC-17 draws might be more valuable than the chance for some teens to see the movie with their parents. Think of it as a “Bully” maneuver, minus the Weinsteins.


PG-13: Some material may be appropriate for box-office success

MPAA upholds rating on NC-17 'Chained'

'Chained' director Lynch says she will cut the movie, but asks why she needs to

R rating for Prometheus: Will it hurt the film commercially?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch in "Killer Joe." Credit: LD Entertainment

MPAA: Director to recut 'Chained,' but asks why she needs to

May 3, 2012 |  8:30 am

  "Chained," Jennifer Lynch's serial-killer movie starring Vincent D'Onofrio, has been given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA. The director asks why

On Tuesday, the filmmakers behind "Chained," a movie about a serial killer starring Vincent D’Onofrio, saw the Motion Picture Assn. of America deny their appeal of an NC-17 rating by a vote of 9 to 4.

On Wednesday, director Jennifer Lynch told 24 Frames she will recut the scene -- a graphic depiction of a woman having her throat slit open -- that landed the movie the MPAA's harshest rating. But she didn't sound like a filmmaker who understood, or was happy about, the group's decision.

"The one thing they [the appeals board] kept citing was context, that violence in a lot of other films doesn't feel as intense," she said. "I have a lot of compassion for what [the MPAA] does. And they were all very nice and warm in the room. But it doesn't seem fair to me. I feel like we are being punished because the film was done the way it was set out to be done, which was authentically."

The film's distributor, Anchor Bay Entertainment, said it has yet to decide whether it will also release an unrated version to theaters (presumably after the rated version has finished its run, per MPAA rules) or, possibly, release the unrated version on DVD. Lynch's movie centers on a serial-killing cab driver (D’Onofrio) who murders a boy's mother and then attempts to make the boy his protege; the boy must then decide whether he wants to follow in the killer's footsteps. The film has not yet been dated for release.

Kevin Carney, the Anchor Bay executive who argued the appeal alongside Lynch, said that he also was flummoxed by the MPAA's decision. He said he watched a number of movies to prepare for the appeal, including the torture-porn picture "Hostel 3," and didn't understand why that film had got an R rating while "Chained" was given the NC-17.

"There were horrific scenes [in 'Hostel 3'] that I can't get out of my head, but what the [MPAA] kept saying is that it was context, which seems arbitrary," Carney said. "Compare our movie to 'Sweeney Todd,' where 13 or 14 people get their throat slit. There's an equal amount of graphic-ness. It's just a different style."

The MPAA's context argument may elicit skepticism from some of the organization's observers, because the group has often said it strips away those concerns when evaluating a film. In the case of the recent controversy over the R rating for "Bully," for instance, filmmakers said they were told by the organization that it couldn't lower the rating for profane language simply on the basis of the profanities' context.

Lynch, the daughter of director David Lynch and a filmmaker whose movies often contain violent themes, has had her tangles with the MPAA before. She landed an NC-17 nearly 20 years ago for a decapitation scene in her debut picture, "Boxing Helena."

She said she thinks that many other blood-soaked movies get an R because they don't strive for the same intensity as her films -- a false distinction, she believes, that rewards a casual attitude toward violence.

"What you’re doing with the NC-17 is making a very potent statement that no kids should see this movie no matter what, even though kids can see [R-rated] movies where violence is sexy and funny," she said. "And I don't think it should be OK for kids to see violence just because it's sexy and funny."

She added, "As a parent, I don't make the distinction that it's OK for my daughter to see something if it's laughed at as opposed to something that's real and affecting."

The MPAA is sometimes criticized for going too lightly on violence, giving movies with comparable amounts of sex or language a harsher rating. Indeed, the reason offered by the group for the NC-17 on "Chained" was a phrase one doesn't see alongside that rating very often: "some explicit violence."

The group has been more willing to hand out the NC-17 of late. Another film, "Killer Joe," received an NC-17 in March, in that instance for "graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality."

Lynch said she knew that the stigma of the NC-17 was too great to risk a commercial release with that rating. But she hopes film-goers check out her uncut version of "Chained," if only for comparison's sake. "Horror fans will see it and be stunned at the NC-17," she said. "They've seen much worse."


More MPAA ratings being appealed in 2012

"The Hunger Games," "Bully" prompt ratings fight

MPAA upholds NC-17 rating on Jennifer Lynch's "Chained"

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Vincent D'Onofrio in "Chained." Credit: Anchor Bay

MPAA upholds NC-17 rating on Jennifer Lynch's 'Chained'

May 1, 2012 |  1:50 pm

Another movie has been branded with an NC-17 by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

The filmmaker and distributor behind “Chained,” a thriller about a serial killer starring Vincent D’Onofrio, saw their appeal rejected by the group on Tuesday. The movie, which was directed by Jennifer Lynch (“Boxing Helena,” and daughter of David Lynch) and distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, was given an NC-17 for “some explicit violence.”

It marks a rare instance of an NC-17 rating being given because of violence alone; the MPAA’s harshest tag is usually applied at least in part because of sexual content. The movie centers on a man (D'Onofrio) who kills a young boy's mother and then raises the boy as his murderous protege.

Lynch does have a history with the MPAA's toughest rating--she received an NC-17 in 1993 for "Boxing Helena," which depicted a man amputating a woman and keeping her in a box. Lynch and an executive from Anchor Bay argued on behalf of the filmmakers on Tuesday.

The rejected appeal for "Chained" marks the second time in the last six weeks that an appeals board for the MPAA's Classification and Rating Administration has decided to stick with an NC-17 on an independent movie. In March, the group upheld raters’ decision to give the Matthew McConaughey hit-man picture ”Killer Joe” an NC-17 for “graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality."

The NC-17 has been a little-used tool by the MPAA since replacing the notorious X rating several decades ago. But either because filmmakers are pushing the envelope or because the MPAA has become more serious about using it, the NC-17 has surfaced more of late. In the last 18 months, the romantic drama “Blue Valentine” and sex-addict tale “Shame” were also each given an NC-17, with the former overturned on appeal.

Producers did not immediately reply to a request for comment or to say whether they will cut some of the violent scenes in response to the ruling to seek an R.


More MPAA ratings being appealed in 2012

The Hunger Games, Bully prompt ratings fight

Bully rating: Some, but not all, profanities cut for PG-13

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A shot from "Chained." Credit: Anchor Bay

'Ted's' bong toke: Is the MPAA softening its drug policy?

April 16, 2012 | 10:47 pm


As we all know from the recent controversy over the initial R rating for the documentary “Bully,” the Motion Picture Assn. of America finds bad language very scary. It is almost entirely unperturbed by extreme violence, which is why so many movies, most notably “The Dark Knight,” can still receive a PG-13.

But when it comes to drugs, the MPAA apparently isn’t sure what it thinks anymore. It seems especially confused about what kind of drug use can be depicted in movie trailers, the primary means studios have of luring young people to see their films.


Let’s go to Exhibit A: the new trailers for “Ted,” an upcoming R-rated comedy from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane. For the last couple of weeks, the Internet has been abuzz over one uproarious trailer for the Universal Pictures film, which chronicles the wacky co-dependent friendship between Mark Wahlberg’s John and Ted, a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed talking teddy bear.

The trailer is a so-called “red-band” trailer, which can be crammed with foul language and crude sexual humor. Because of restrictions imposed by the MPAA advertising administration wing, headed by Marilyn Gordon, it's almost impossible to see red-band trailers in theaters, although they are widely available on innumerable websites. Green-band trailers, in contrast, are generally scrubbed of most offensive content and made available either for “all audiences” or “appropriate audiences,” the latter being audiences in theaters that don't contain a significant proportion of children.

In recent years red-band trailers have flourished on the Internet, where they are a prized marketing weapon for studios eager to impress kids by showing just how much raunchy sex, drugs or naughty language is in their R-rated comedies. One of “Ted’s” red-band trailers on YouTube has been viewed 4.3 million times.

Continue reading »

'Bully' rating: Some, but not all, profanity cut to get PG-13

April 5, 2012 |  5:22 pm

"Bully" documentary

In a turn that allows both sides to claim victory, the Weinstein Co. announced Thursday it had reached an agreement with the Motion Picture Assn. of America to re-cut its unrated documentary “Bully” to land a PG-13 rating. The movie will now go out with that rating when it opens in about 115 new theaters next weekend.

The Times initially reported Friday that the distributor was planning a new version of the movie -- which focuses on the issue of teen bullying through the lens of five families -- so it could nab the lower rating.

The new cut of the Lee Hirsch film makes some concessions to the MPAA: It removes an obscenity that begins with the prefix “mother” in an early scene, along with two other quickly uttered F-words. Audio will be dropped out in all three instances.

But the new cut leaves intact a controversial scene on a school bus in which three F-words are used against a bullied child. The case now represents an exception to the MPAA’s rules; the group typically will impose an R rating on any film with more than two F-words.  

Stephen Bruno, head of marketing for the Weinstein Co., told 24 Frames that “I can say with no stutter that we would have remained unrated if we had to change that scene.”

In an interview, Hirsch said that he felt satisfied by the results. “This was about drawing the line but not being utterly unreasonable,” he said. “What’s absolutely relevant is the scene that we retained. There was one [obscenity in another scene] I didn’t want to give up. But I didn’t want to hold back all the groups that wanted to see the movie, Boy and Girl Scout groups and school groups, that wouldn’t be able to go if we stayed unrated.”

The new rating means that children of any age can see the documentary without an adult. An R rating requires adults to accompany children under the age of 17; a PG-13 simply offers guidance without imposing an age minimum.

The new rating also means that all theater chains — including Cinemark, the nation’s third-largest, which has a policy against playing unrated films — can show the movie.

Weinstein Co. went out with the movie unrated after losing an appeals battle with the MPAA to knock the film down from an R; in the process, the company garnered buckets of free publicity as a grass-roots and celebrity-studded campaign to overturn the initial R rating gained momentum.

“Bully” opened last weekend in five theaters in L.A. and New York City as an unrated film. It did solid business, averaging $23,000 per screen.

The unexpurgated version of the movie will remain in those theaters this weekend, with the PG-13 print replacing all versions when the movie widens April 13. The MPAA bylaws require a 90-day waiting period between different cuts of a film but make an exception for movies that go from limited to wide release, as “Bully” is doing.

One person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to talk about it publicly said that Christopher Dodd, the former senator (D-Conn.) who runs the MPAA, was instrumental in making an exception on the three F-words, winning out over other personalities at the organization. Hirsch said that there was "an openness [at the MPAA] that had a lot to do with him.”

Asked about the exception via a spokesman, Joan Graves, head of the MPAA division that oversees ratings, released a statement that read, in part:

“Per the standard rating process available to all filmmakers, The Weinstein Company decided to resubmit a new, edited version of 'Bully' to be rated, and the ratings board gave this new version of the film a PG-13 rating for intense thematic material, disturbing content, and some strong language -- all involving kids.”

She continued, “In the case of 'Bully,' the ratings system has worked exactly as it is supposed to: Parents have been kept informed of the content of each version of the film, and they have been given the information they need to make movie-going decisions on behalf of their kids."

The issue has shined a light on the rules of the MPAA, which some critics have said are inconsistent and opaque, particularly when it comes to the issue of language. Hirsch said that he had no interest in turning this into a crusade — his main focus was attracting attention to the teen-bullying problem — but that he did believe this case could affect the practices of the MPAA.

“I think this has given fuel to a conversation that’s long overdue about the double standard when it comes to rating movies,” he said. “People say you can’t change the MPAA. But we’re not throwing something at a brick wall. It’s an organization made up of human beings, and like any other great institution it can be changed to better reflect what people want.”


'Bully' will get re-cut to land a PG-13, sources say

Is 'Bully' a tipping point for the MPAA movie ratings system?

'Bully' got the rating it deserved

 -- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Alex Libby, one of the subjects of the documentary film "Bully," at the premiere March 26 in Los Angeles. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

‘Bully': Does going unrated solve anything?

March 27, 2012 |  4:02 pm

Harvey Weinstein seemed to have come up with a clever solution to “Bully’s” R-rating problem when he decided to release the documentary unrated. Sure, some chains won’t play unrated movies, but those theaters that do will be able to show it without the restrictive tag around their necks. (An R prohibits children younger than 17 from being admitted unless accompanied by an adult.) Teenagers could see “Bully,” which is largely about and for them,  unfettered.

Except he may not have eliminated the problem.

Even without a rating, theater chains can decide on their own not to allow unaccompanied teenagers into a movie, effectively giving it the force of an R.  And the National Assn. of Theatre Owners is advising its members to do just that.

“If [theaters] choose to play the movie, we have recommended to them that they treat it as an R-rated movie, because it was rated R originally and the content hasn't changed,” NATO chief John Fithian told 24 Frames in an email.

Weinstein Co. acknowledged Tuesday that  it could face an issue with theaters choosing on their own not to allow teenagers to see the Lee Hirsch film, which centers on five families affected by teen bullying.  “We have chosen not to accept the R rating,” said Erik Lomis, the company’s head of distribution. “We cannot force the theaters to accept it as a PG-13. We can only suggest.”

The movie opens in a total of five theaters in Los Angeles and New York this weekend. The country's second-largest chain, AMC, has said it will screen the film (two of the chain’s theaters will be part of the movie’s limited opening this weekend) and suggested that it will allow teenagers to see the movie unaccompanied.

[Updated, 6:54 p.m.: An AMC spokesman said it will indeed allow that, but only if the child presents a signed permission slip from a parent, either via a form letter made available by the theater or an improvised note on a standard piece of paper. The move is an apparent attempt to support the film -- AMC executive Gerry Lopez has two teenagers and has been vocal about its importance -- while still paying deference to the Motion Picture Assn. of America and its ratings system.

But how it will work -- will box-office employees and ticket-takers be trained to scrutinize those letters for authenticity? -- remains to be seen. Also an open question is whether teenagers will be any more willing to ask for a permission slip than they were to ask the parent to accompany them to the film in the first place.]

However, a source at theater company Cinemark, the country’s third-largest chain, said the exhibitor has a policy against showing unrated movies and won’t make an exception for this one. A source at Carmike, the nation’s fourth-largest chain, who also wasn’t authorized to talk about the issue publicly, said that the company also will not show an unrated film and will not be screening "Bully."

Those policies could inhibit the documentary as it widens on April 13 to more than two dozen markets. (A representative for Regal Cinemas, the country’s largest chain, did not reply to a request for comment on whether it would show the film, or how it would treat the movie if it did. )

Still, even with the distribution hurdles, there is already a high degree of awareness for the documentary. On Tuesday, a Twitter campaign elicited support from the likes of Kim Kardashian, Anderson Cooper and Ryan Seacrest. Some distribution experts say that the movie could enjoy a nice run at the box office, surprising for any documentary these days, let alone one about a difficult subject  and which quietly premiered at a festival nearly a year ago.


Battle over 'Bully' rating heats up in nation's capital

A 'Bully' pulpit for Weinstein Co.

'The Hunger Games,' 'Bully' prompt ratings fight 

Weinstein Co to release Bully documentary without MPAA rating

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Bully." Credit: Weinstein Co.

Weinstein Co. to release 'Bully' documentary without MPAA rating

March 26, 2012 |  2:27 pm

Weinstein bully chris dodd mpaa

This post has been corrected. Please see bottom for details.

After losing its battle to get the rating of the documentary "Bully" changed from an R to a PG-13, Harvey Weinstein said Monday his company will release the film unrated.

The move follows Weinstein's earlier vow to The Times that he would choose the unrated route so that teenagers could see the film, which centers on how teen bullying has affected a number of families throughout the country. "Bully" received an R rating from the Motion Picture Assn. of America because of profanities hurled by children at each other in the film.

An R rating  means no children younger than 17 in a theater without an adult. But some large theater chains have a practice, if not a policy, against showing unrated films, and "Bully" may not gain as wide a distribution footprint as it otherwise might have.

For his part, AMC theaters executive Gerry Lopez has said he will stand by the film, suggesting the chain will play it nationally even if it is unrated. Indeed, the movie opens in limited release this weekend at the AMC Century City as well as at the ArcLight Hollywood and the Landmark in Los Angeles, and the Angelika and Lincoln Square in New York.

The film is scheduled to widen its release to about two dozen markets on April 13; those theaters haven't  been disclosed yet. The MPAA and the National Assn. of Theatre Owners did not immediately reply to a request seeking comment.

The Weinstein Co. appealed the R rating but lost by one vote. A petition to change the rating to PG-13 was signed by more than 400,000 people, including celebrities such as Meryl Streep and Justin Bieber, but the MPAA declined to budge. As it is not a member of the MPAA, the Weinstein Co. has the option to release a film without a rating. (The MPAA is a trade group made up of the six large Hollywood studios.)

In a statement, Weinstein Co. President of Marketing Stephen Bruno suggested that he was not concerned about the distribution issue. “The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves."

Weinstein previously told The Times that he felt this was the only way to go. "We have to do it that way," he said. "It's too important to risk the R."

[For the Record: An earlier version of this post said the movie would play the Lincoln Plaza theater in New York. It will play the Lincoln Square theater.]


Battle over 'Bully' rating heats up in nation's capital

A 'Bully' pulpit for Weinstein Co.

'The Hunger Games,' 'Bully' prompt ratings fight

-- Steven Zeitchik 

Photo: "Bully" director Lee Hirsh, left, Motion Picture Assn. of America chief Chris Dodd and Harvey Weinstein pose for a photo before a panel discussion after a screening of the documentary "Bully" at MPAA on March 15 in Washington. Credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images  


How would you change the MPAA's movie ratings? [Poll]

March 23, 2012 | 11:48 am

The ratings board of the Motion Picture Assn. of America has had better months.

Following its assigning of an R rating for the documentary "Bully," the MPAA has been attacked from all quarters.

Harvey Weinstein, the film's distributor, and "Bully" director Lee Hirsch claim the MPAA's rating is not only hypocritical and inconsistent (the more expletive-laden documentary "Gunner Palace" was rated PG-13) but also keeps the film from its intended audience of middle school kids. (Their appeal of the R rating was defeated by a single vote.)

Katy Butler, a Michigan high school student, started an online petition aimed at overturning the R rating and has collected more than 400,000 signatures. A number of celebrities, including Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep, and members of Congress have joined the chorus asking that "Bully's" rating be revised to PG-13.

The Parents Television Council, which supports the MPAA's rating for "Bully," says movies such as the dystopian drama "The Hunger Games," in which a number of teenagers kill each other, should be rated R, not PG-13.

What do you think?

Take our poll, and give as many as three answers.



Battle over ‘Bully’ rating heats up in nation’s capital

A 'Bully' pulpit for Weinstein Co.

'Bully' seeks ratings change (and exposure)

With Ellen DeGeneres and Drew Brees, ‘Bully’ battle goes celeb

— John Horn

Photo: A scene from "Bully." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

'Bully': Can Weinstein Co. resign from group it doesn't belong to?

February 23, 2012 |  9:02 pm

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, who would want to withdraw from a club that wouldn’t have them as a member?

Harvey Weinstein, apparently.

On Thursday, the Weinstein Co. lost by one vote an appeal with the Motion Picture Assn. of America to knock down the rating of its upcoming documentary “Bully,” which looks at the problem of bullying, from an R to a PG-13. The group apparently had found that language used by some of the bullies merited the more severe rating—despite the testimony of a bullied boy from the movie that the questionable scenes were essential to show the bullies’ brutal ways and to educate parents and children.

Shortly after the hearing, the Weinstein Co. released a statement saying that it wasn't just upset with the rating: It’s about had it with the organization that handed it down.

“TWC Considers Leave Of Absence From MPAA” read the statement’s sub-headline. The statement went on to say that,  “As of today, The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far "

There was only one problem: the Weinstein Co. isn’t in the MPAA. A spokesman for the organization confirmed that Weinstein is not a member of the group, which represents the business interests of the major studios in Washington and abroad, and also  oversees the ratings system. (Most of the members are conglomerate-owned studios; independent companies, such as TWC, are usually not affiliated.)

A Weinstein spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

(In its own statement after the Weinstein release, Joan Graves, head of the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration that oversees ratings, didn’t acknowledge the MPAA withdrawal but did respond to the ratings question. “The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that ‘Bully’ can serve as a vehicle for...important discussions,” the statement read. “The MPAA also has the responsibility, however, to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.)

The Weinstein Co. has been one of the most aggressive companies in battling the MPAA over ratings--in 2010, for example, it fought successfully to get “Blue Valentine” reduced from an NC-17 to an R.

It’s possible that what Weinstein Co. meant was that it would no longer submit its films for ratings--signatories are required to submit their films, while independent companies can opt to go unrated). Of course, if the company did that, it would deprive itself of public showdowns with the MPAA--one of its most preferred publicity tactics.


Could August: Osage County finally make the jump to the big screen?

Oscars 2012: Studio nominations by the numbers

'Safe House' director's prior film coming to theaters July 27

 -- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Harvey Weinstein. Credit: John Shearer/Getty Images


Gina Carano's 'Haywire' stuck with R rating

November 15, 2011 |  3:35 pm


EXCLUSIVE: "Haywire," the Steven Soderbergh spy thriller that marks the acting debut of mixed martial arts star Gina Carano, won't be available to a large majority of the teen market.

The ratings board at the Motion Picture Assn. of America has upheld its R rating for the film,  said a person close to the group who was not authorized to discuss the decision publicly.

"Haywire," which will be released Jan. 20 by Relativity Media, hopes to target a youthful audience. Mixed martial arts draws disproportionately from teens, twentysomethings and thirtysomethings; Saturday's Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez fight on Fox, for instance, won its time slot in the 18-34 demographic. The prospect that filmgoers under 17 won't be able to buy tickets to “Haywire” without an adult present is a blow to the movie and to Relativity, which had spearheaded the appeal.

A globetrotting action movie that derives as much from "Warrior" as the Jason Bourne films, "Haywire" shows Carano as a kind of female assassin, taking care of her enemies (and she has many) with her fists as well as her brains, with Michael Fassbender and Michael Douglas costarring. "Why is Angelina [Jolie] currently the only woman who's allowed to run around with a gun and beat people up?" Soderbergh recently told an AFI audience. "Someone 20 years ago put Steven Seagal in a movie. Why don't we step it up?"

The MPAA does not offer details on appeals, although “Haywire” does feature a number of scenes of intense physical violence.  (The initial ruling was given because of “some violence.”) Intriguingly, the movie  is relatively light on the weaponry and other accouterments of some violence-heavy movies that merit only a PG-13, such as “Sucker Punch."

It's unlikely the studio could remove the most violent “Haywire” fight scenes, which are woven into the fabric of the film.

A Relativity spokesman did not immediately comment on the decision.

The MPAA sees a number of appeals each year, occasionally overturning its earlier decisions. Last year it famously decided to knock "Blue Valentine" from an NC-17 to an R after being lobbied by Harvey Weinstein, the film's distributor.


With 'Haywire,' Soderbergh tries a new trick

--Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Gina Carano in "Haywire." Credit: Relativity Media


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