Harvey Weinstein decided to put out a family-friendly version of the Best Picture Oscar winner not as head of The Weinstein Company but as a dad, he writes—to inspire kids struggling just as King George VI once did. Why release The King’s Speech PG-13?
Because we were asked to by voices that deserve to be heard.
We’ve had letters from kids, parents, and teachers, all asking the same thing—make the film accessible to a younger audience. But perhaps even more compelling are the accounts from the few children here in America whose parents have elected to show them the original film.
One father spoke to me with tears in his eyes. His son has a stutter and he was overwhelmed by the positive impact the film had on him. An American boy found a kindred spirit in the king of England and was inspired to fight this disorder. We’ve heard from children who’ve connected to the film and found the courage to stand up to bullying. That’s why this decision was made. Sometimes I make decisions as the head of a company, but in this case I made the decision as a dad.
Listen, I showed my kids the original version because I believe they can understand the context of the minor vulgarity, but I respect a parent’s choice not to.
The family-friendly version of the film may have been partially responsible for numbers dropping in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, but guess what? It’s almost certainly responsible for the upward curve in Raleigh, Salt Lake City, and Toledo, to name a few. These are cities where many families almost certainly wouldn’t have embraced the film as a family experience without the offering of a PG-13 version.
The new release has had polarizing reactions, and it’s a credit to the film that it’s prompted such a passionate response.
Did we do it for the extra shekels? A nice thought, but this was never in the cards. We absorbed additional production, delivery, and marketing costs to bring The King’s Speech PG-13 to moviegoers. The film in its original form was continuing along the healthy trajectory expected from a Best Picture winner and was set to keep building profit. To offer the PG-13 version, we had to switch out the original to adhere to MPAA regulations.
The Robin Hood Foundation, National Stuttering Association, Stuttering Foundation, and Our Time, as well as people like Geoffrey Canada, one of the most inspiring educators of our time, wanted to bring this film to a younger audience. They all believe—and here I use the words of Canada, because he says it best—”the arts can teach children lasting lessons about life and have an immensely positive influence on how they develop into adults.” To accompany the film’s re-release, we’ve produced 50,000 free study guides, which have been distributed across the country and are available to all online.
The King’s Speech has been recognized universally as a rare and special cinematic experience. Our job was to bring it to the widest audience possible. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to see the film on the big screen. We didn’t cut the movie. We altered the cursing in two scenes, and I believe the strength of the story withstands these changes without compromising its heart and soul.
If the PG-13 re-release enables one more child struggling with similar challenges to feel empowered and hopeful, then our efforts were worth it. And that’s why this decision was an easy one.
Harvey Weinstein is the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, which includes Dimension Films, the genre label that began Miramax. Since launching in 2005, The Weinstein Company has released numerous films, including the Oscar-nominated Inglourious Basterds and The Reader. Weinstein founded Miramax Films in 1979 with his brother Bob and the two helped the company release some of its most critically acclaimed and commercially successful films. Under the Weinsteins’ tenure, Miramax received 60 Academy Awards.