In an attempt to squeeze the last few coins out of the domestic box office of the Academy award-winning film The King’s Speech, The Weinstein Company will put out a PG-13 cut of the film which changes the four letter words that got the film rated R. The sanitized version will come out April 1 on 1000 screens and will be the only version in theaters. The film won Best Picture, and won Oscars for director Tom Hooper and star Colin Firth, and got co-stars Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter nominated.
There was a time when other R rated films that became phenomenons were recut, most notably Saturday Night Fever, but this is the first instance of this sort of recutting in a long while. For the most part – for the last ten years – the studios have favored putting out director’s cuts or “Unrated Versions” on DVD and Blu-ray, but no notable censored versions after the fact.
The news of this may bring some new audiences to the theater, or perhaps there’s some younger audience members denied by theater staff from seeing the Oscar winner. Mainly, this puts the film back in theaters with a new ad campaign after its long run was nearly over, and may generate a couple extra million theatrically for the stunt.
Regardless, the film is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 19, so it should be out of theaters after three weeks. As there will be a DVD in that time this alternate version will never again be available, unless it proves so successful the studio feels the need to put out a new home video edition.
In the original cut, Colin Firth’s King George VI is warming up to speak and says the word “fuck” repeatedly. This word has been replaced with “shit.” As I understand, the rules from the MPAA are that a PG-13 film can have a use of the word “fuck” but no more than three. There are also rules about intent – if you direct the use at someone (“fuck you”), it’s an automatic R. The arbitrariness of this rule has never been clearer.
Do the MPAA rules make sense on this one?