Film Studios Can Be Sued Over False Advertising in Trailers, Judge Rules in Ana de Armas Lawsuit

Universal will have to just “Let it Be” for now as a federal judge ruled that film studios can be sued over false advertising in movie trailers following a lawsuit over the studio’s 2019 film, “Yesterday,” which did not star Ana de Armas unlike what the trailer had teased.

In January, two de Armas fans — Paul Michael Rosza and Conor Woulfe — filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Universal after they discovered the actress’ absence from the Danny Boyle-directed romcom, which the two men claim they rented after seeing de Armas in the movie’s trailer. But de Armas’ role was cut from the film, and Rosza and Woulfe weren’t happy, claiming the advertising was “false, misleading and deceptive.”

After the two fans sued Universal, lawyers for the studio attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, asserting that movie trailers are protected under the First Amendment. However, U.S. District Judge Steven Wilson shut down Universal’s motion on Tuesday, according to Deadline.

The California judge declared that a trailer “constitutes commercial speech,” and ruled that the lawsuit “may proceed without offending the First Amendment.”

“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. “At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.”

He wrote in the suit, per Deadline. “In sum, Universal has pointed to no non-commercial speech that could be intertwined with the trailer and, the inextricably intertwined exception to the commercial speech doctrine does not apply. Thus, because Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the trailer is false, commercial speech, Plaintiffs may proceed with their claims without offending the First Amendment.”

Wilson also noted that “the Court’s holding is limited to representations as to whether an actress or scene is in the movie, and nothing else.”

TooFab has reached out to Universal for comment.

“Yesterday,” which was written by Richard Curtis, follows musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) who wakes up after suffering a head injury only to find that he’s the only one in the world who’s heard of The Beatles and their music.

Lily James plays Jack’s love interest, Ellie, in the film, and de Armas’ cut character, named Roxanne, was initially going to come between the couple, according to CinemaBlend.

While speaking to the outlet in 2019, Curtis discussed the decision to cut de Armas’ character and the subplot from the film.

“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it. I mean really radiant,” said the screenwriter. “And [that] turned out to be the problem… I think the audience likes the story [about Ellie and Jack] and goes with that, and it works out well. What we’d originally done was had, I don’t want to describe it too much, but had Ana de Armas as a complicating factor when he arrived in L.A. for the first time.”

Curtis added, “I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”

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