Movie Studios Can Now be Sued for Deceptive Trailers

Movie Studios Can Now be Sued for Deceptive Trailers

Thanks to a new ruling, deceptive movie trailers may be a thing of the past.

According to Variety, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled on Tuesday that movie studios can be sued under false advertising laws if they release deceptive movie trailers. The case stems involved the 2019 movie Yesterday, which stars Himesh Patel as a man in a world without the Beatles.

The trailer for Yesterday included clips of actor Ana de Armas, famous for roles in Knives Out, The Gray Man and Blonde. Two fans of the actor filed a lawsuit in January, alleging that they had rented Yesterday after seeing her in the trailer. However, once they saw the movie they discovered that de Armas was cut out of the final film.

Originally, de Armas was indeed supposed to play a love interest for Patel’s character in Yesterday. However, she was cut out of the film entirely because audiences didn’t like the idea of Patel moving on from his primary love interest (Lily James).

Previously, Universal tried to throw out the lawsuit. The studio argued that movie trailers are entitled to protection under the First Amendment, claiming that a trailer is an “artistic, expressive work” and should be considered as “non-commercial” speech. Wilson rejected the argument, saying that a trailer is in fact commercial speech. Thus, trailers are subject to the California False Adverting Law and the state’s Unfair Competition Law.

“Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer,” Wilson wrote. “At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.”

It’s not uncommon for movie trailers to include footage that does not actually appear in the finished film. For instance, one teaser trailer for Jurassic Park (another Universal film) is made up entirely of cut footage. With this new ruling, though, the door is open for studios to be sued for putting out highly deceptive trailers.

Carson Burton is freelance writer at .


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