"Bully" documentary will have no rating in movie theaters

A scene from the documentary "Bully."
Weinstein Company
A scene from the documentary "Bully."
Weinstein Company

(CBS/AP) When the documentary, "Bully," lands in theaters on March 30, it  won't have a rating, leaving the decision to show the film in the hands of individual movie theaters.

"It's up to theaters to let them [young people] in," said filmmaker Lee Hirsch.

Watch: "Bully" controversy grows
Read more: Fighting a bullying documentary's R-rating

The Motion Picture Association of America gave the The Weinstein Co. film an R rating for language and declined to change it when the Weinstein Co. appealed. That inspired teen activist Katy Butler to start an online petition seeking a lower rating so more young people could see the movie.

She has collected more than 485,000 signatures so far and even met with MPAA officials earlier this month, but the group stood its ground and "Bully" remained rated R, which requires children under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, told the Weinstein Co. that releasing the film unrated could result in theaters treating the teen-focused documentary as an NC-17 film, which means no one 17 and under can be admitted.

Stephen Bruno, president of marketing for the Weinstein Co, isn't too concerned.

"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," Bruno said Monday, adding that the company plans to make the film available to teachers, parents and students nationwide.

Hirsch said he declined to edit the documentary's offensive language because it would diminish the painful reality of bullying.

"The small amount of language in the film that's responsible for the R rating is there because it's real. It's what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days," Hirsch said.

"Bully" has been well-received by critics, with the Wall Street Journal calling it "compelling" and Harpar's Bazzar describing it as a "must-see movie."

Tell us: What do you think about the no-rating decision?