Lee Daniels’ upcoming film, which most audiences know as The Butler, has been involved in a legal battle over title rights. Last year, the Weinstein Company was denied use of the title The Butler by the Title Registration Bureau (TRB). Since then, the distribution company has been using it in several promotional materials.
Warner Bros. has claimed copyright on the title due to a 1916 short film of the same name. Earlier this month, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ruled that the Weinstein Company find a new title and prohibited the use The Butler.
However, on Friday, July 19th, according to Deadline, a small compromise was made and the MPAA altered the original ruling. Using the title The Butler is still out of the question, but in the new ruling, the Weinstein Company is allowed to use the word “butler” as long as the rest of the words are the same size and prominence. However if they choose to call the historical film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, “Lee Daniels” is required to be at least 75% the size and have equal prominence of “butler”.
The Weinstein Company is required to pay the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) $25,000 per day if it continues to use The Butler. After July 26, if no new title and materials are made, the fee will go up to $50,000 a day. $150,000 in legal fees will also have to be paid to Warner Bros. To see the entire decision, click here.
The film, which will be formally known as The Butler, stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a butler who served as the White House’s head butler from 1952-1986. The film is based off of the real life of Eugene Allen. The film also stars Cuba Gooding Jr., John Cusack and many more including, Oprah Winfrey as Whitaker’s wife.
The film is set to release in the US on August 16th. Check out the trailer below.