Judge: Lawsuit Over 'Deceptive' Movie Trailer Can Proceed

Ana de Armas fans sued because her scenes were cut from 'Yesterday'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2022 9:22 AM CST

Movie trailers don't count as "non-commercial" speech entitled to protection under the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled this week in a lawsuit filed over Universal Pictures' trailer for Yesterday. Two Ana de Armas fans filed the suit in January, arguing that they rented the movie because the actor was in the trailer and they would never had done so if they had known her scenes had been cut. US District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that studios can be sued under false advertising laws when trailers are deceptive enough for a "significant portion" of "reasonable consumers" to be misled, Variety reports. He rejected Universal's argument that a trailer is an "artistic, expressive work" that merits full First Amendment protection.

"Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer," Wilson said in his ruling. "At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie." Universal argued that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would "open the floodgates" to lawsuits from trailer viewers based on "any of an unlimited number of disappointments," the Verge reports. The studio's lawyers cited a Jurassic Park trailer comprised entirely of footage that wasn't in the movie. Johnson cut some claims from the lawsuit but ruled that the trailer is subject to California's False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law.

The two plaintiffs paid $3.99 each to rent Yesterday from Amazon Prime and they are seeking at least $5 million in damages in the lawsuit, which was filed as a potential class action suit. Yesterday stars Himesh Patel as a struggling musician who wakes up after an accident to find that he is in a world where the music of the Beatles never existed, but he can still remember the songs. De Armas played a potential love interest, but her scenes, including the one in the trailer, were cut because test audiences didn't like the love triangle subplot, screenwriter Richard Curtis told Cinemablend in 2019. He said it was a "very traumatic cut" because de Armas was "brilliant" in the role. (Read more movie trailer stories.)

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