Supporters of actress Ana de Armas filed a $5 million lawsuit against Universal Pictures, claiming false advertisement over trailers for the movie Yesterday.
Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza, who filed the suit early this year, say they were misled buying the movie on Amazon Prime after seeing the actress in the trailer. The two fans were dismayed after discovering Ana de Armas was entirely cut from the film.
In the trailers, Ana de Armas is featured as a secondary love interest for the main character, played by Himesh Patel, but the actress was removed from the movie. Richard Curtis, the screenwriter for the movie, has justified the exclusion due to screen tests, as audiences didn’t approve of the main character straying from his primary love interest, interpreted by Lily James.
Variety reports, Universal asked for case dismissal on Tuesday, arguing the trailer with de Armas was protected under the “First Amendment” and claimed that trailers sometimes include scenes that do not appear in the final version of films.
U.S. District Judge Steven Wilson, however, disagreed and ruled that the trailer is a commercial speech and is 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," the federal judge wrote in his ruling.
He added, "At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie."
The two fans are seeking $5 million on behalf of California and Maryland residents who paid to watch the film. The pair claims the studio ‘used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance, and brilliance’ to promote the film by including her scenes in the movie trailers of Yesterday.
Meanwhile, the case will now proceed to discovery and a motion for class certification. The issue opens the precedent for movie studios to be sued due to misleading trailers. This might have repercussions beyond the movie industry, as video game companies are also often accused of using misleading trailers.
Many games usually show considerably superior graphics on their trailers as opposed to the final product, and some even feature completely different main protagonists from the ones in the actual game. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is particularly infamous for it, featuring Solid Snake as the protagonist in the trailers, while in the game players control Raiden instead.
With companies now subjectable to lawsuits based on misleading trailers, this may force a change in how studios present their product in trailers.