After losing a battle to change the R rating, The Weinstein Company said it would move forward with releasing the film unrated on Friday. The Lee Hirsch film was rated R due to coarse language that was deemed inappropriate for children under 17.
Distributors appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the Motion Picture Association of America. The board was just one vote shy of changing the rating to PG 13.
"We just couldn't go out as an R, it's the wrong rating for this film," Hirsch said. "We want kids to be able to see it. We want families to be able to see it. "
"The small amount of language in the film that's responsible for the R rating is there because it's real. It's what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days," Hirsch said in a statement. "All of our supporters see that, and we're grateful for the support we've received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it's up to the theaters to let them in."
Michigan teenager Katy Butler, who was bullied in middle school, collected more than 400,000 signatures calling for a rating change, but the rating change was declined. The MPAA said their hands are tied since an appeals board upheld the rating of the movie.
AMC said it would carry the film in its theaters.
Kelby Johnson, 19, is one of the teens documented in the film. She was 16 at the time and bullied because she is gay. She hopes the film will encourage people to take a stand.
"Our generation can be the generation that stands up and says we're not going to deal with this anymore" Johnson said. "No kid is going to bed and feel like they don't want to wake up in the morning."