The Butler is, arguably, one of 2013’s most anticipated films.
Sporting an all-star cast featuring Forest Whitaker as the lead, the Lee Daniels film is based on the real-life account of White House butler Eugene Allen, who served the Eisenhower to Reagan Administrations.
However, the film has already surrounded itself with controversy.
Warner Bros. Pictures has accused the Weinstein Company-produced film of having the same name as a silent short film created by Warner Bros. in 1916.
Digital Spy reported that Lee Daniels has appealed to the Warner Bros. Pictures CEO Kevin Tsujihara in a personal letter pleading with him to not only see the film but also to showcase the potential it had to empower African Americans.
“I made this film so I could show my kids, my family, and my country some of the injustices and victories African Americans and their families have experienced in the fight for Civil Rights,” Daniels wrote in a letter attained by Deadline Hollywood.
“There are so few depictions of strong black families in our cinematic history and it was of paramount importance to make this movie about a family who endured and survived unimaginable discrimination in their quest for the American Dream.”
Daniels’ letter has received the support of the film’s screenwriter Danny Strong and three of its actors including Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey (who plays Whitaker’s wife in the film), David Oyelowo and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sided with Warner Bros. Pictures and blocked Bob and Harvey Weinstein from using the title of the film.
In addition to being forced to change their film’s title, The Weinstein Company has been fined $25,000 per day until they drop the title of The Butler and choose a title that does not contain any variation of “butler.”
Deadline reported that the Weinstein Company lawyer David Boles had already sent out letters to both the lawyers of the MPAA and Warner Bros. stating that he will “potentially file an anti-trust suit” on the matter and stated that if both parties do not stop the clock on the fines on the appeal process, Boles will file a temporary restraining order over the next 48 hours.
The Butler is scheduled to release in the US on August 16th, but has yet to receive a release date for the UK.