I haven’t been covering the fight over The Butler as closely as I’d like, which is a shame because the case is pretty crazy. So basically, WB sued Weinstein Company over Weinstein’s upcoming Oscar-bait film The Butler, from deranged director Lee Daniels, saying Weinstein couldn’t use the title because “The Butler” was already the title of a 1916 short owned by WB. Which is pretty insane, because movies with similar titles happen all the time. Nonetheless, an MPAA title registration bureau ruled that The Weinstein Company couldn’t use the title, and Weinstein appealed, but they don’t have much time because the movie is set to open August 16th.
Now, Harvey Weinstein says that the real issue was that Warner is trying to screw him because he wouldn’t give up his share in The Hobbit.
“I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to The Hobbit they would drop the claim,” Weinstein [told CBS This Morning]. “For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic. I think this is 100 percent. This was the big guy trying to hit the small guy.”
Wait, who’s the small guy again? All this big-guy small-guy talk made me imagine Harvey Weinstein had kidnapped a hobbit.
The Weinstein brothers negotiated a piece of The Hobbit many years ago, when they controlled Lord of the Rings while running Miramax, The Hollywood Reporter previously reported. Their deal gave them at least 2.5 percent of The Hobbit‘s first-dollar gross, or the money Warner Bros. and MGM received. It’s unclear whether the Weinsteins are entitled to a cut of the Hobbit sequels. Warner Bros. says the deal only covers the first film, but the Weinsteins believe they are entitled to a cut of all three movies, sources told THR.
Weinstein also noted that in order to prevent having to pay $25,000 a day in penalties, the company pulled its trailers from theaters and took down its website promoting the film.[THR]
Lee Daniels even wrote an emotional letter to WB begging them to reconsider, but if courts responded to heartfelt letters, I’d no longer be considered a sex offender. The bigger question is, couldn’t Weinstein just retitle their movie? How expensive could that be? Could it really be that important that it be called “The Butler?” Let’s see what this movie’s about and see if we can give it a shot:
A look at the life of Cecil Gaines who served eight presidents as the White House’s head butler from 1952 to 1986, and had a unique front-row seat as political and racial history was made.
Good lord, that looks like a fake movie from Tropic Thunder. In any case, why not just call it “White House Butler?” Did C-Tates’ joint bombing ruin that one? Or how about “White House, Black Butler?” Now THAT’S a title. Think of the zaniness! The record scratch is already implied.