MPAA gives Burleson church's $25,000 film an 'R' rating

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 7:20 PM

BURLESON –– Premiere Cinema in Burleson looks like most multiplex theaters, but among the giant posters for the big budget Hollywood fare is one for a film called "My Son."

It was made by nearby Retta Baptist Church with a single camera for just $25,000. 

And the congregation was shocked recently when the film received its rating: R. Restricted.

“For some violence and drug use," Pastor Chuck Kitchens said.

Even with the aroma of popcorn filling the theatre, Pastor Kitchens smelled something fishy in the rating.

"There could be some kind of bias against our message, which is the presentation of the Gospel,” he said. “I don't know that. I can't prove that."

The film depicts a deadly hostage situation in a church. But Kitchens argues that much more explicit films have escaped R-ratings.

"Forrest Gump was given a PG-13 rating. We're given an R, and you say there's got to be something else," he said. 

Pastor Kitchens said he offered to make cuts, but the Motion Picture Association of America couldn't guarantee it would help. Kitchens said he supports the MPAA’s mission, but not its conclusion.     

"The problem,” said Kitchens, “is our marketing strategy relies on pastors to get the word out to their congregations to buy tickets.”  

That puts some preachers in an awkward spot –– as Kitchens put it, "Because they have lifelong careers speaking out against watching "R" rated movies," said Kitchens.      

The cinema has already sold more than 600 tickets for the premiere on Sept. 20.   

"We're going to do red carpet. The limo," said manager Mike Harris. He expects the film to do well. He says if kids come with an adult 21 or over, they'll get in.     

Pastor Kitchens says he’s not going to fight the rating any more.   

He says the “R” will just have to stand for “real” and “redemption.”

Email jdouglas@wfaa.com

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