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"The Butler" Title Feud – Why Warner Brothers is Battling TWC for a Name



Great post from Oscarology exploring the pettiness and politics behind not just awards season, but Hollywood at large…

On Monday, Deadline reported that Warner Brothers (WB) was attempting to block The Weinstein Company (TWC) from using The Butler as the title for their upcoming film starring Forest Whitaker as a Butler who served eight US Presidents. Oscarology first reported on the film in September, when TWC acquired the rights to Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article, “A Butler Well Served By This Election,” about real life White House butler Eugene Allen.

At 5:43 PM PT Monday, Deadline reported that Warner Brothers was awarded the rights to The Butler title by the Title Registration Bureau of the MPAA. The Weinstein Company was asked to remove the title from all marketing, promotional and other material by midnight, a seemingly impossible feat since they have been plugging this since September. I haven’t had any calls from Harvey to update the title, in case you were wondering. The move would also be a harsh blow to the film’s opening Box Office, since it’s set to release in August. At 6:30 PM PT, TWC filed an appeal and secured noted attorney David Boies, who has defended CBS, Michael Moore and Napster, to investigate Warner’s claims. Boies is attacking their motives because the short film “has not been shown in theaters, television, DVDs, or in any other way for almost a century.”

If this little short hasn’t been shown or released virtually anywhere since its debut, why is Warner Brothers making such a fuss? Is it payback for the Good Lie/Good Life scuffle? No. I think it has to do with Prisoners, Gravity and their awards calendar.

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