More films are appealing MPAA ratings

By Steven Zeitchik and John Horn

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 6:01 p.m. MDT

"We feel strongly that 'Killer Joe' was arbitrarily and unfairly rated NC-17," said Dinerstein, who has yet to decide what his next steps will be. "Other films, including 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' 'Black Swan,' 'A History of Violence' and 'Pulp Fiction,'?contain comparable adult material and received the less restrictive R rating, as well as 'The Hunger Games,' which features kids killing their peers and is rated PG-13."

Independent filmmakers have long believed that the appeals board can be biased in favor of movies from the six large studios that are members of the trade group. Still, the only appeal for a 2012 film from an MPAA member, 20th Century Fox's R-rated "This Means War," did not succeed. Besides "Haywire," "Bully," "Killer Joe," "Sea Level" and "Perks," the group also heard appeals on "Apart" and "The Possession."

All of the media coverage surrounding appeals such as the one for "Bully" may have also shown filmmakers that appealing — while not certain to yield a new rating — is worth a shot.

"Maybe it's just that there's more familiarity with the process," said Alan Friedman, a lawyer who has been involved in several recent appeals. "Whether it's easier or harder to prevail, I don't know for sure. But the decisions themselves are getting more publicity."

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