Film studio can be sued over “misleading” trailer by fans, judge rules

Two fans are suing Universal after Ana de Armas featured in the trailer – but not the movie – for ‘Yesterday’

A judge has ruled that two fans can move ahead with their lawsuit against a movie studio over what they claim is a “misleading” trailer.

Two fans – Paul Michael Rosza and Conor Woulfe – filed the lawsuit in January 2022, claiming that they had rented the movie Yesterday after seeing Ana de Armas in the trailer. However, when they watched the movie in full, de Armas was not in it.

On Tuesday (December 20), a judge allowed parts of the false advertising lawsuit to proceed. US District Judge Steven Wilson ruled that a movie trailer “constitutes commercial speech” and is therefore not entitled to broad protection under the First Amendment.

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Lawyers for Universal, the studio that produced Yesterday, had argued that a trailer is an “artistic, expressive work” and should be eligible for protection under the amendment. But Wilson said in their ruling [per Deadline Hollywood]: “Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer. At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.”

Ana de Armas
Ana de Armas in the movie ‘Yesterday’. CREDIT: Landmark Media/Alamy

The judge added: “The Court’s holding is limited to representations as to if an actress or scene is in the movie and nothing else.”

De Armas was originally due to appear in the movie in a significant role as a love interest of Jack Malik (played by Himesh Patel). However, test audiences did not respond well to the character coming between Malik and Ellie Appleton (Lily James), another romantic relationship of the lead male’s.

Earlier this month, Julian Lennon revealed that the “weird” John Lennon scene in Yesterday destroyed the movie for him. The late Beatle made an “appearance” in the film, played by Robert Carlyle.

“I actually loved that movie Yesterday until they put that bizarre bit of an impression of what Dad would look like in his seventies and eighties or whatever, up on a Scottish or Irish island,” Julian said in Hiking With Kevin. “It kind of threw the whole movie off for me. I didn’t obtain [it]. It wasn’t crucial for me, I don’t think. And it was just weird.”

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