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Film intelligence: Second-rate ratings

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week, Harvey Weinstein and the MPAA try to BULLY each other, we cap off our Oscar hangover and THE GODFATHER returns to theaters.

1. BULLY Keeps Getting Bullied

Last week’s story about The Weinstein Company appealing BULLY’s R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America has gotten considerably more complicated since we last spoke about it. That appeal was denied, as the vast majority of MPAA appeals are, prompting an online petition that’s already collected over 100,000 signatures and a threat from Harvey Weinstein to pull out of the MPAA in protest over the decision. The latest development involves a letter from NATO — not that one, the trade organization representing movie theaters — telling The Weinstein Company that it will instruct its members to treat an unrated cut of BULLY, a documentary about the bullying problem in our nation’s school, as it would any other unrated movie. In other words: no one under the age of 17 will be admitted, a prospect that bodes poorly for BULLY’s box office, let alone its chance to affect change in our nation’s schools. In response to NATO’s letter, the Weinsteins released their own statement in which they argued that “to suggest that the film BULLY could ever be treated like an NC-17 film is completely unconscionable, not to mention unreasonable.” Reports that the Weinsteins then gave the head of NATO a wedgie were unconfirmed at press time. [Entertainment Weekly]

2. “It was a wonderful night for Oscar! Wait, was it?”

There was this little awards show for movies on Sunday, the Academy Awards? You might have heard about it. THE ARTIST was the big winner, taking home five awards including Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), and Best Picture. ABC was also a winner for the evening, as their Oscar telecast drew 39.3 million viewers, up 4% from last year. That makes Billy Crystal a winner, too; returning to host the Academy Awards for the first time since 2004, he drew a bigger crowd than last year’s whippersnappers, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, despite the fact that both of them are younger than most of Crystal’s material. Social media got involved in the show as well; Twitter reported posting more 3.8 million tweets during the show. I think I personally sent about half of them (the other half were people asking “Who is Billy Crystal?”). [Los Angeles Times]

3. Kim Jong-Il Communication

Another big story from last week involved the Oscars banning comedian Sacha Baron Cohen from the event after he threatened to walk the red carpet in character as the titular hero of his new film THE DICTATOR. “The Oscars’ red carpet is for publicity! Not publicity!” All right, so perhaps the Academy’s reaction was a bit rash, as they tacitly acknowledged when they overturned their initial ruling and permitted Cohen to attend as “Admiral General Aladeen.” Though Cohen never appeared on the official Oscars pre-show telecast (surely just a coincidence), he did show up on E!’s coverage, where he talked to Ryan Seacrest and “accidentally” dumped “Kim Jong-Il”‘s “ashes” all over the American Idol host. If you’re wondering why Cohen was allowed to besmirch the Oscars with his shenanigans, here’s a conspiracy theory for you. Who’s releasing THE DICTATOR? Paramount. Who’s Paramount’s paid marketing consultant? Tom Sherak. What organization is Tom Sherak the president of? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Again, surely just a coincidence. [Deadline]

4. In Space, No One Can Hear You Advertise

Film promotions aren’t really news, but they can be a work of art unto themselves, as evidenced by this very cool piece of guerilla marketing designed to help raise awareness of Ridley Scott’s upcoming ALIEN prequel, PROMETHEUS. It’s designed to look like a TED Talk from the year 2023, where Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) says he wants to change the world. The clip, conceived and designed by Ridley Scott and PROMETHEUS co-writer Damon Lindelof and directed by Scott’s son Luke, bears certain stylistic similarities, at least to my eye, with Scott’s legendary 1984 ad for Apple. Watch the ominous and intriguing short and judge for yourself. [Badass Digest]

5. An Offer You Can’t Refuse (It Comes With Melted Butter Topping)

Leave the gun, take the cannoli — no, you know what? Leave the gun and the cannolis at home (especially the gun), but if it’s playing near you, be sure to go see THE GODFATHER on the big screen, as God and Francis Ford Coppola originally intended. It’s playing Thursday, March 1 for one night only at select Cinemark Theaters, in a 40th anniversary restoration overseen by archivist Robert Harris and GODFATHER cinematographer Gordon Willis. THE GODFATHER is on every home format known to man, it plays on cable all the time, but if you’ve never seen projected in a dark room, uninterrupted by commercials (and interrupted by teenagers on their cell phones), you really need to do it at least once. If you go, I promise I won’t leave any more severed horse heads in your bed (the first one was an accident, I swear). [The Hollywood Reporter]