'King's Speech' Gets Online Oscar Bump; Harvey Weinstein Hopes For PG-13 Version

EXCLUSIVE: Fandango’s top daily ticketseller is now The King’s Speech as of yesterday even though The Weinstein Co released the film 8 weeks ago. The pic has seen a 76% increase in ticket sales on Fandango since the Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday morning. But attendance could really soar if The Weinstein Co succeeds in creating a PG-13 version to respond to exhibitors and educators who want the movie available to a bigger audience.

It turns out that educators believe kids would benefits from seeing The King’s Speech and are asking The Weinstein Co for a cut of the movie without all the “fucks” that gave it an “R” rating from the MPAA. And exhibitors believe the movie could then pile up grosses on the order of True Grit which has been appealing to young audiences because of its PG-13 rating. A clean version of King’s Speech is being discussed but is by no means certain. We’re told that Harvey will leave the decision up to director Tom Hooper. “If Tom doesn’t want it, it won’t happen,” an insider tells us. So there will be no confusing Harvey with Edward Scissorhands, here, though he has prevailed upon Hooper to give the picture a shot at its widest possible audience.

Hooper fought the MPAA ratings but without success. Here’s what the director told Deadline about the infamous therapy scenes back when the film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival:

“Everyone understood this was a non-negotiable key to the story. What a strange world we live in that Salt can open with Angelina Jolie having a tube fed down her throat, with water poured in it to drown her. I’m 37 and that scene continues to disturb me. That’s fine, but the word ‘fuck’ being used in a very humorous therapeutic context — to help a man with a stammer unblock a problem — is considered a threat. Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig having his balls smashed in, tied to that chair with no bottom, doesn’t get an ‘R’. Our film censorship is quite bizarre. Violence is acceptable while language is not, no matter the context.”

  1. More publicity. The film was okay. A little slow but good storytelling. Didn’t realize it was rated “R” but it’s not like anyone under 40 will find it interesting anyway so what’s the big deal?

    1. Plenty of people under 40, 30, and even 20 find it interesting — including my Xbox-playing, NFL-crazed 14-year-old son and his friends.

  2. Most likely, in the 30’s the “f” word wasn’t used by royalty anyway. I remember in the fifties the “f” word in England was very rare even among us common folk, so without the naughty word I believe the film is more authentic.

    1. Why comment if you haven’t seen the scene? It covers the fact royalty isn’t supposed to swear and has the speech therapist asking the king to be if he even knows the f-word.

    2. Roger — Have you seen the movie? The idea that those aren’t the kinds of words he’d use is part of the point of the scene.

      On the rating issue: this is the most absurd movie rating that I can think of. I had no idea it was rated R until the blue screen came up when the movie ended, and I was shocked. Just slap it with a PG-13 — there’s no way 13-year-olds need to be protected from those words. (Although they may be able to swear more interestingly: if the middle school population picked up “bollocks,” I for one think that would be a step in the right direction.)

      I hope the director vetoes the cuts. The scene, and the words, really are vital for the way the movie works in my opinion. If anything, I’d like to see them starting an ad campaign that lauds the film’s value for the young and attacks the MPAA for its shortsightedness. Let the studio defend the film to parents as a film children ought to see.

    3. Have you seen the film? “The F word” is used in the context of a bad word that he (the king) shouldn’t and wouldn’t use. For a movie about language those scenes seem pretty important to the film. It’s too bad Harvey didn’t contest the MPAA like he did for Blue Valentine, but I guess this is getting as much publicity now.

  3. The real issue is that the MPAA has such a high tolerance for violence, but flips out about language, regardless of context. I have to agree with Hooper’s statement. Something is out of whack.

  4. Yes I thought it was hysterical that this was rated R. But @ Curtis the article mentions educators who might want to take a classroom or a group of students who might have speech impediments to go see it but wouldn’t be able to. I know if I saw this when I was heavily stammering teen it would have had a great influence on me.

  5. The film was absolutely amazing. In a year of great films, this one stands out as the best. And Hooper is exactly right. What a bizarre, twisted society we live in today.

  6. The fact that the film even garnered an “R” rating is absurd enough—I’m certain that I saw a big Hollywood action film way back in the 80s that had far more profanity with a PG, and I have always agreed completely with Mr. Hooper’s assessment of Hollywood censorship. As a kid in public school, I clearly remember several occasions where we had “R” rated movies screened for us at school after our parents had been notified, as well as seeing “R” rated fare broadcast uncut in Primetime (“The Deer Hunter”) because of its social significance. The use of the F-word is certainly important to this film and is, contrary to what some might believe, completely historically accurate as an expletive. (The term, after all, had British origins dating back much further than this story.)

    What gets me is that the rule USED to appear to be this: “What the fuck?” = PG-13 while “I’d fuck that” = R… It was supposed to be about context. If it was a sexually aggressive or explicit use, then the R was applied. If it was a reactive response, the PG-13 applied. In this film, the context is all but completely removed, meaning it is just a “naughty” word in a list of words. Perhaps that was the rating board’s rationale, that by admitting it was naughty, the film demanded an R. It is a very cynical approach if that is the case. No doubt, they fall back on frequency for justification, which is completely arbitrary and just as cynical, because EVERYTHING in media is about context. Too bad that the media these days does everything it can to undermine that basic tenet.

    Young people would do well to see this film and hopefully theaters and distributors will be as liberal promoting this to the youth audience as they were with T2.

  7. Roger, that’s exactly the point of that scene! By making Bertie use words he would not ordinarily say, Lionel hoped it would help break through the psychological barriers that were causing the stammer. As I posted elsewhere, everything is context.

  8. I’ll point out another crazy example of the rating system -Easy A was PG-13 and was actually ALL about f**king AMONG TEENS no less! One could argue Easy A was much more inappropriate for some teens to watch than King Speech in which the word f**k is used as just a swear word and in context to therapy.
    Both should be rated PG-13, but I guess in Easy A actual f**king is called “sex” so that’s the difference? It is completely insane!

  9. Wait a second…I think the “fuck”s are one of the most important parts of the film, and here’s why: During the final speech, right before George says “at War” Logue mouthes “fuckfuckfuck” to him, and I think it adds a poignancy to it that would be taken away if the actual spoken curse words are taken out…would they leave the silent ones in?

  10. I find this news disturbing because harvey fought so hard to get both this and blue valentine changes in their ratings and they were successful in getting the R for blue valentine. The kings speech is doing just fine as it is and if kids really want to see it and so called educators want it to be seen, they can be taken by them to the movie. It is ridiculous to make changes to a movie — its censorship and just an affront to tom hooper’s direction and siedler’s screenplay.

    It’s not as if this movie is the one that the under 17 are clamoring to see.

  11. I haven’t seen the film yet, but this rating seems so silly. I can see worse on South Park (the one where Cartman fakes having tourette’s). Austin Powers gets a PG-13 and has a scene where he’s arranging a threesome with Fook Yu and Fook Mi? I had a film where the MPA made us delete the word ‘spluge’ to get a PG-13. This is also similar to Erin Brockovich which received an R for language and a lot of kids then could not see an inspiring film. Very silly in 2010…

  12. Those history teachers requesting The King’s Speech without the F-bombs might want to read Christopher Hitchens’ piece in Slate ( http://www.slate.com/id/2282194/pagenum/all/ ) before embracing this film.

    Come to think of it, Oscar voters should read it too lest they also get taken in by the wild historical revisionism woven throughout The King’s Speech.

  13. I am a conservative–I’m a talk show host for a a Rush Limbaugh station, and I am not a fan of the lazy, pointless swearing that frequently dominates films, but The King’s Speech is a triumph and the script is far from lazy. The swearing has context and meaning. I agree with those of you pointing out the violence of literal ball-breaking torture that gets a PG-13, while this gets an R. It makes absolutely no sense. 2 and a half men is regularily more objectionable in content, and it is prime time.
    I hope they are able to bring it to a broader audience, but they shouldn’t have to change it to do so.
    I hope Rush and Firth, the drector and the film get the Oscars ( gotta go True Grit’s star for best supporting).

  14. What bothers me about the use of the “f” word in this context is that it is not historically accurate, a word not even in use at the time. Therefore, it simply shows the puerile, cheap, Hollywood script-writing trick that movie producers love to chuckle at in their junior high bathroom mentality. The scene could have been just as effective using some other word, but no … !

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