'Fed Up' Distributor Explains Battle With MPAA Over Poster

Late Wednesday, the Motion Picture Association of America reversed its ban on the poster for "Fed Up," a new documentary about the food industry and its impact on the health of Americans. The now-controversial one-sheet featured two M&Ms emblazoned with the letters "F" and "U," a representation of the movie's title and also a popular swear. On Friday, HuffPost Entertainment spoke with Tom Quinn, co-president of Radius-TWC, the company that will release "Fed Up" on May 9, about the MPAA "reconsideration" on the poster.

Were you surprised the MPAA rejected the poster? I'm not surprised they rejected it. We expected it. But, by the same token, these are the initials of our film. Could I very easily spell out the title of the film? It's the psychology of limitations: the more restrictions they will apply, the more creative we will be. We immediately appealed. I wanted to get the poster out there into the world. We had launched it online, but by making the appeals process public, I'm happy to notify the world what's happening. I have to admit that later on, the MPAA coming back and having reconsidered -- and having done it so quickly -- I have to say that I'm very impressed. I can't say that I've ever been victorious. I've worked on more than 200 movies, so I'm floored. I'm happy. I'm excited.

You did launch the poster online with us here at The Huffington Post. Does the actual one-sheet that's in theaters really matter at this point if everyone has already seen it on the Internet? I think it is important. There is sort of the 360-degree approach to how people become aware of your movies, and it's more online than ever. The flip side of that is this: 90 percent of the people coming to your movie are at the theater at some point in the eight weeks prior to release. They are seeing your trailer and your poster. In the event that I cannot get my poster passed, then I'm not showcased in my place of business. It's a problem.

For me, the campaign has to speak to what the film speaks to: the outrage that I felt watching it and what I learned from it. For our marketing to do that is essential. Guess what? This is a documentary. It's difficult to get the kind of attention needed to get someone out of their house to come see your film on Saturday night. So, if we've got the best possible idea to get this movie in front of people, you hate it when people stand in your way. I feel this poster speaks to the film.

Did the MPAA explain why they decided to reconsider? I feel like this movie is a middle-of-the-country movie. I think it's a big documentary on scale with "The Inconvenient Truth," which also has the same producer, Laurie David. Maybe in their assessment of this film, because this was a documentary, there was a larger grey area for how it was considered and where it would be shown. If "Fed Up" was the fifth installment of "The Avengers," I wonder if we would have arrived at the same result. I don't know, and I can't speak to it, but I'm just thinking out loud.

Regardless, you must be very happy with the result. I wish I could send them flowers. I don't know who to send it to, but I appreciate them working with us. I hope they're as efficient and understanding the next time we find ourselves in a situation.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

fed up poster



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