Mike Fleming

The Weinstein Company is ready to launch a PG-13 version of the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech on 1000 theaters on April 1, following an appeal and much discussion over the controversial MPAA R-rating  the picture received because of liberal use of the word “fuck” in Tom Hooper’s original cut. April Fool’s Day seems an appropriate date for release because the whole thing seems so silly, but a good thing if you are a fan of the word “shit.” From what I’m told, the film is exactly the same length. What’s different? In that scene where King George VI (Colin Firth) tries a suggestion from speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to curse in an attempt to get past his stutter, he now will mostly say the word “shit” about 42 times, instead of the word “fuck,” a word which isn’t used beyond the 2 or 3 times that is the limit for PG-13. Is this really what the movie business and the ratings board has come to? While Tom Hooper told Deadline during the Toronto International Film Festival that he wouldn’t change a frame of the film, I guess this was a way to do it without excising a moment of screen footage. Sources said that Hooper was involved in this dubbing effort that keeps The King’s Speech from carrying the same rating as films in the Saw franchise. The film originally got a 15 rating in the UK, but that was overturned by an appeal that considered the context the words were used in.

Harvey Weinstein wanted the PG-13 for DVD purposes and so it could be shown in schools and made available to younger audiences. Not sure how much it helps the film’s box office, which has reached $133 million domestic and $359 million worldwide. Here’s the announcement:

New York, NY, March 24, 2011 – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that THE KING’S SPEECH PG-13, the family-friendly version of its Academy Award-winning historical drama about King George VI, will open on 1,000 screens nationwide on April 1, and will be the only version available in theatres. One of the year’s most celebrated, successful and beloved films, THE KING’S SPEECH was honored at the 83rd Academy Awards® with Oscars® for Best Picture, to producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin; Best Director, to helmer Tom Hooper; Best Actor, to star Colin Firth; and Best Original Screenplay, to screenwriter David Seidler. The announcement was made by TWC’s President of Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment Eric Lomis.

Said Lomis, “We are thankful to the MPAA for their wisdom and swift action in approving the release of THE KING’S SPEECH PG-13 release. The action enables those to whom it speaks most directly – young people who are troubled by stuttering, bullying and similar trials — to see it.”

The emotional impact of stuttering that was illuminated by THE KING’S SPEECH continues to be a topic of conversation with the recent statements by Vice President Joseph Biden about his own struggles with stammering. The release of THE KING’S SPEECH PG-13 offers families nationwide access to a positive story about stuttering and overcoming obstacles and social stigmas.