You might think The Weinstein Company would be pleased with “The King’s Speech.” It’s been a critical darling ever since it premiered last September, and a success with audiences since its theatrical release at Thanksgiving. To date, the film has grossed more than $123 million in the United States, a healthy return on the Weinsteins’ investment. Oh, and it won the Oscar for Best Picture, too.
But the Weinsteins were deeply unsatisfied. For you see, “The King’s Speech” was rated R, thus depriving children of the opportunity to experience the inspiring story of a British king who stuttered and then didn’t. The cries of these millions of children filled the Weinsteins’ ears until they could stand it no longer. Children MUST be able to watch Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in a historical drama, and they MUST be able to do it without a parent or guardian! Sometimes a 14-year-old wants to a see a critically praised Oscar-winner and doesn’t have a parent or guardian handy.
So the Weinsteins bleeped out the movie’s F-words, got the new version rated PG-13, and will soon put it in theaters, swapping it out with the filthy, filthy R-rated one. Mind you, the scene where the king delivers a flurry of profanity — which he does as an exercise when he realizes he doesn’t stammer when he swears — is still in the movie. It’s just that now the sound is muted when he drops the F-bombs. Viewers will still see the whole drama, and see his lips move, and know what word he’s saying. They just won’t be able to hear him say it. This will presumably help the Weinsteins make an additional $400 million.
Since this is such a brilliant, uncynical, perfectly legitimate thing to do to one’s movie, we offer the following advice to other filmmakers who would like to emulate the Weinsteins.
Current rating: “R for language, some violence and disturbing images.”
Suggested edits: In addition to bleeping the F-words, you’ll also need to remove a few brief but gory images. While you’re at it, go ahead and slap the title The Abyss on it. People loved that movie!
New rating: PG-13 for some violence and incoherence.
Current rating: “R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use.”
Suggested edits: The main character’s sexual awakening can be rendered more family-friendly by removing all references to it. Now it’s just the pleasant story of a nice girl who loves her mom and wants to be a ballerina.
New rating: PG-13 for some intense discussion of whether little girls should do what their moms tell them.
Current rating: “R for strong graphic sexual content, language, and a beating.”
Suggested edits: The whole “marital discord” thing is a downer. You expect kids to spend their video game money on that?? Lose it.
New rating: PG for scenes of Oscar-baiting.
Current rating: “R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images.”
Suggested edits: Come on. You know what you did wrong here. Leave out that one thing, give it a happier ending, and change the title to “126 Hours.”
New rating: PG-13 for scenes of amputation contemplation.
Current rating: “R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language.”
Suggested edits: OK, this one’s going to be tougher. You’re going to be left with a 15-minute short about a man who plays hilarious pranks on people. (“Surprise! You’re chained to a buzz saw!”) On the bright side, theaters can play it more times per day than they could when it was 90 minutes, and more screenings = $$$$$!
New rating: PG for mild horseplay and japery.
Current rating: “R for language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality.”
Suggested edits: Do what the Weinsteins did with “The King’s Speech” and just mute the sound every time someone swears. Voila! More families in attendance AND you score the first top-grossing silent film in 80 years.
New rating: PG for boxing.
Current rating: “R for strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language.”
Suggested edits: Getting a PG-13 rating even though your film is a showcase of wall-to-wall violence is tricky, but it’s not impossible. The key is to have the violence involve fantasy creatures like orcs, hobbits, Narnians, and extra-terrestrials. The solution: use CGI to make Stallone and company look like inhuman monsters. (It won’t take much.)
New rating: PG-13 for images of inhuman monsters.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Current rating: “R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language.”
Suggested edits: Take out the violence. Now it’s a gentle drama about a badly scarred burn victim who loves children and visits them in their dreams, where he uses his razor-fingers to help them unwrap their birthday presents.
New rating: PG for smoking.
Current rating: “R for strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity, and some drug use — some involving children.”
Suggested edits: Ugh, that title is a turn-off. The rest is fine.
New rating: Same, but now it’s called “Kick-Face.”