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Michael Moore's controversial new movie "Fahrenheit 911" will open on Friday June 25 with an "R" rating from the Motion Picture Association of America which restricts anyone under age 17 from seeing the picture in a public theater unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. This is a major disappointment to the film maker who had hoped for a "PG-13" rating. He wants to touch 15 and 16 year old kids who might eventually end up in Iraq as young soldiers and marines. However, Moore put a good face on the setback by encouraging younger teens to come to the movie and bring their parents.
The MPAA rating was due to graphic images which include a public beheading in Saudi Arabia. Tom Ortenburg of Lion's Gate Films had appealed the MPAA rating saying that the message was important and the violence no more extreme than what children see on cable TV news programs.
It seems unlikely that the "R" rating will damage Moore's efforts to reach mass audiences. Earlier this year, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ received an "R" rating for violence. However, the controversy acted as publicity and families flocked to the movie with their children. In fact, the hubbub over distribution, the onslaught from the far right, winning the Palme D'Or at Cannes, the fortuitous interview with beheading victim Nick Berg before his fateful trip to Iraq and now the fight over the MPAA rating has provided Moore with millions of dollars in free advertising.