It is a quirk of American culture in that there is no such thing as misfortune, misunderstanding or an accident. No matter how stupid, somebody, somewhere must be liable. Lawsuits have been brought against beer companies because the beer didn’t make them more attractive to women, against Michael Jordan because he looked a little bit like somebody else. One man even sued himself for a breach of his own civil rights. These are all true.

Somebody, somewhere, gotta pay!

Now a court case has concluded that could change everything in the world of movie trailers.

Two fans of Blonde and Knives Out actress Ana de Armas rented the Beatles-themed movie Yesterday after seeing her in the trailer. However de Armas had her scenes cut before release. She wasn’t in the movie. So these two had that very American reaction to things simply not going their way. They filed a lawsuit.

Universal tried to have the lawsuit thrown out, arguing trailers are entitled to First Amendment protection for being an artistic, expressive work and thus should be considered non-commercial speech.

District Judge Stephen Wilson issued a ruling that rejected the argument, saying a trailer is commercial speech and subject to California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition laws:

“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.”

Universal’s lawyers argued that it is common for trailers to contain scenes not in the finished movie as they are made well in advance of the final cut being signed off.


By hilarious unintended consequence this ruling also opens studios to potential lawsuits from anyone who can say the finished movie didn’t match their expectations. This opens up movie trailers to be governed by the same false advertising laws that cover consumer goods and other services. You can bet somebody will sue.

Look for “Not the final version” warnings and disclaimers on movie trailers pretty soon.

As a much younger man, before the internet, I spent all of Predator 2 waiting for Arnold Schwarzenegger to turn up. Where is my goddamn compensation?

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