NEW YORK — Harvey Weinstein knows he can be temperamental, and he knows he's not above a good publicity stunt, but he said Thursday his complaints over an R rating for his company's upcoming trans teen family story "3 Generations" are worth the effort on behalf of prospective young trans viewers.
Starring Elle Fanning as a girl who wants to transition, the Motion Picture Association of America assigned the restrictive R based on strong language, including some sexual references. The film, which opens with a limited release in Los Angeles and New York on May 5, also stars Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon.
The dust up is similar to Weinstein's ratings complaint for "Bully" in 2012. The Weinstein Company successfully challenged that film's R rating and the MPAA knocked it down to PG-13.
"I am not complaining about it when we do a horror movie, you know, when we do 'It Follows.' We understand we live by the rules," Weinstein said. "When the movie has something of social importance to say, I think it's important that we stand up. I admit that I'm temperamental but nevertheless I try to fight for good. This is insane."
The MPAA released a statement Thursday saying the rating system is designed to give parents consistent information about the content in a film and that it does update the system as attitudes change.
"None of the ratings indicate whether a film is good, bad, or otherwise, nor is (its) purpose to prescribe social policy," the statement said. "This system has withstood the test of time because, as American parents' sensitivities change, so too does the rating system."
Weinstein has been accused of publicity-seeking through ratings complaints in the past. In this case, he said, an R rating would mean trans youth under 17 without adult accompaniment could not see the story of a New York family struggling with the transition of Fanning's character, Ray.
"Honestly, this is not a publicity attempt," Weinstein said. "If it was I'd just say so because I don't care. I find nothing wrong with seeking publicity. This is issue oriented."
Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, sent a letter earlier this week to MPAA officials urging reconsideration of the R rating.
"All that differentiates the film from other PG-13 films is a few instances of strong language," she said in the letter. "The film does not include graphic violence, drug use, or nudity — it merely portrays a modern family."