Muting the king's message

The producers of The King's Speech have censored their own movie, deleting a gross vulgarity. Here's why that's a mistake

Edward Morrissey

As we all know by now, the Academy Award for Best Picture was won by The King's Speech, an excellent dramatic rendering of Britain's King George VI's struggle to overcome language difficulties, specifically a debilitating stutter. Unfortunately, George VI now faces an entirely new language difficulty. The producers of The King's Speech have resubmitted the film to the Motion Picture Association of America, the industry's rating agency. Just days before winning a total of four Oscars and after grossing more than $106 million at the box office, The Weinstein Company edited the film to either remove or mute several instances of the "F-word." The goal: To get the MPAA to give the R-rated original a PG-13 rating.

This is no academic exercise for Weinstein. An R rating means that teenagers cannot buy tickets to The King's Speech, and that is where the box-office gold lies. As much as 55 percent of Hollywood's annual receipts have come from that classification since 2002, according to Ron Leone of Stonehill College, of whom more later. The R rating limits ticket buyers to those 17 years of age and older, and Weinstein wants to tap the lucrative teen market to exploit more fully the momentum of the Oscar win.

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.