UPDATED with MPAA comment: It’s impossible to count how many times that Harvey Weinstein has gone against the MPAA on one of his company’s films, but it just happened again. This time for the film 3 Generations which stars Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon. The film has bounced around the release schedule — it was initially skedded for Sept. 2015 and even got a title change before the company (it was previously titled About Ray), before being slotted for a May 5th date for exclusive engagements in L.A. and New York.
Now, the company which purchased the film out of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for $6M, is throwing the gauntlet down to the MPAA yet again (they have done this on Bully, The King’s Speech, and Philomena and even more films before) in a very public stance against the MPAA which issues rulings on ratings.
The film, which was released in Brazil with the title About Ray and grossed $375K before being pulled off the schedule in the states and re-configured, follows a family living under one roof in NY as they deal with the life-changing transformation of Ray (Fanning).
The film was given an R rating by the MPAA for language including some sexual references. According to MPAA spokesman, Chris Ortman: “Under the Classifications and Ratings Administration (CARA) rules, the ratings board and appeals board maintain confidentiality and do not comment publicly about the process for movies under review. Any filmmaker who objects to the given rating can choose to go through the appeals process.” He cited, specifically, Page 4, Section 2, letter “D”, and page 17, Section 3, respectively of the rules book.
TWC has asked its longtime lawyer David Boies to advise on their dissent. Boies, of course, is well-known for his role (back in 2009) to overturn Proposition 8, California’s discriminatory ban on gay marriage and has consulted on numerous issues for TWC in the past — on the film Carol as well as a previous protest of the MPAA’s rating of the documentary Bully which was given an R rating for similar reasons as 3 Generations.
In that case, back in 2012, TWC successfully challenged the MPAA and brought Bully‘s rating down to PG-13, making it more accessible to younger audiences. The film 3 Generations has already been controversial among the transgender community in that it has a female playing a trans male.
“The idea to challenge this film, according to TWC co-chairman Weinstein, is to make sure that high-school kids can get in to see the film. “Gaby (Dellal, director and co-writer), Naomi, Susan and Elle made this movie to share its message of acceptance and inclusion with all generations,” he said. “The fact that an “R” rating would prevent high school students from seeing this film would truly be a travesty. The MPAA and I were able to come to an agreement on Bully and I am confident that we will be able to do so again.”
Susan Sarandon, who stars in the film as Ray’s grandmother, said, “It’s ridiculous to have an R rating which would prevent this audience from seeing the film.”
Dellal commented, “As a mother and a filmmaker, I want to speak to kids, to parents, and to grandparents everywhere in a common language of love and inclusion about a subject matter that is not only real and complicated, but one that is important and alive today. There are kids all over this country that are still too fearful to speak out and to step out; they’re too alone to fight, lacking the kinds of support that would let them feel free to be themselves. Our story wants to humanize this family experience, and to take the mystery out of the secrets. I hope the MPAA will reconsider this R rating and encourage children to see this story and feel connected.”