Movie studios can now be sued for “misleading” trailers

Everyone has had the wrong impression of a movie by watching its trailer. It’s really not nice when you have high expectations for a long-awaited title, only to be disappointed.

Now it seems that a court in the US has taken a stance on this matter. Starting this week, movie studios can be sued under false advertising laws if they release a misleading trailer.

That’s what a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case related to director Danny Boyle’s 2019 film “Yesterday Is Yesterday,” about musician Jack Malik who, after an accident, realizes he’s the only one with a memory of existence. of the Beatles, and became famous for using their songs.

Earlier this year, two fans of actress Ana de Armas filed a lawsuit against the Universal film company, claiming that they rented “Yesterday is for Yesterday” after seeing De Armas in the trailer. Eventually they discovered that she was cut from the final cut of the film and didn’t scream at all.

Plaintiffs Connor Wolfe and Peter Michael Roja each paid $3.99 to watch “Yesterday Is Yesterday” on the Amazon Prime platform and are now seeking at least $5 million in damages from Universal for their disappointment. The two claim that they would not have paid the money to rent the film if they had known that the actress was not in it.

Their claim was filed in the form of a class action on behalf of other disappointed fans.

Ana de Armas was indeed slated to star in “Yesterday is for Yesterday.” She was supposed to play a character who is a romantic interest for the main character. However, the scenes with the actress were removed as test screening audiences did not like the idea of ​​deviating from the main love story.

While it’s unclear whether they’ll win the case, California District Judge Stephen Wilson has ruled that the claim has merit and can go to trial.

Universal argued that there was no basis for a lawsuit, arguing that movie trailers are entitled to broad protection under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which covers freedom of speech and the press.

The studio’s lawyers claim the trailer is an “artistic, expressive work” telling a three-minute story with the idea of ​​broadly conveying the film’s theme, and should therefore be considered a non-commercial message.

Judge Wilson rejected that argument, ruling that the trailer had a commercial purpose and fell within the scope of California’s False Advertising Law and the Unfair Competition Law.

“Universal is correct that these clips involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but they do not negate the commercial nature of the clip,” Wilson wrote in his decision. “Essentially, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a film by providing consumers with a preview of the film in question.”

Ana de Armas, whose role was one of the best things in "Death can wait"disapproves of a different gendered 007 in a future film

Universal’s other argument is that classifying the trailers as “advertising” could open the door to many more lawsuits from disgruntled viewers who might make subjective claims that a movie didn’t live up to their expectations.

According to Wilson, the court’s decision will be limited to cases where an actor or scene from the clip is not present in the finished film.

Whether the two disappointed fans of Ana de Armas will get their money is unclear.

In any case, however, the outcome of this case is important, as a victory for the plaintiffs will set a legal precedent that could seriously dig into the pockets of movie studios in the future.


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