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Harvey Weinstein says the controversy over The Butler's title is because of The Hobbit

07.09.2013

Harvey Weinstein and Warner Bros. are currently at odds over the title to Lee Daniels' latest movie THE BUTLER. At the heart of the case is an obscure 1916 silent short movie of the same name that WB is claiming THE BUTLER is infringing on. Weinstein recently lost his hearing with the MPAA to retain the title for the Forrest Whitaker movie that hits theaters next month and is vowing to fight to keep the title.

Why such a hubbub over a movie title? Weinstein explained what he believes the reason is on CBS Morning News:

"I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to THE HOBBIT they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic."

If that stake in THE HOBBIT films is the reason, that is a pretty greedy one if you ask me. Weinstein owns a 2.5% stake in THE HOBBIT films due to optioning the rights years ago. Granted, that percentage is a lot of money when you figure in the billions the three Peter Jackson movies will rake in. Weinstein also made clear this title replication is nothing new in Hollywood:

"...122 times in the history of movies, titles have been used and repeated. And our understanding with them was that this was just going to be the simple process that it always is. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have a movie out called '[The] Heat.' Jason Statham is shooting a movie called 'Heat.' Bob DeNiro and Al Pacino made a movie called 'Heat' and ten years before that Burt Reynolds made a movie called 'Heat," Harv pointed out. "And 'Unstoppable' has been done 5 times. 122 instances. [Warner Bros] told us they were going to do the normal thing, the normal business they practice and I think there’s an ulterior motive."

I feel bad saying this, but I think Weinstein is right on this one, assuming this is the whole story. There have been similarly titled films for years and more often than not they do cause confusion for the consumer, but I don't see any way that this would impact the silent film since it has not been distributed in decades.

One way or another, Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER will hit screens on August 16th.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: Without the ruling being overturned, the film cannot use the word butler anywhere in the title.
Source: IndieWire

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+0
6:36AM on 07/10/2013
Jurassic Park - a movie about a retirement community
Jurassic Park - a movie about a retirement community
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1:51AM on 07/10/2013

I'm sorry but I've got no sympathy, whatsoever, for Harvey Weinstein

Anyone whose read the majority of stories about this guy & his hollywood style executive "tactics" would know he's been doing the VERY SAME SHIT to other filmmakers, rights-holders, etc. for the last 20 years. Now, it sucks that Forrest Whitaker's film will be the one to suffer any consequences in this regard...but c'mon, Harv...it's only a title.

Mr. Weinstein, as you've so constantly bragged to the movie-going masses & your hollywood peers many times, your a genius in the world of
Anyone whose read the majority of stories about this guy & his hollywood style executive "tactics" would know he's been doing the VERY SAME SHIT to other filmmakers, rights-holders, etc. for the last 20 years. Now, it sucks that Forrest Whitaker's film will be the one to suffer any consequences in this regard...but c'mon, Harv...it's only a title.

Mr. Weinstein, as you've so constantly bragged to the movie-going masses & your hollywood peers many times, your a genius in the world of movie-making / marketing / etc....so all you've got to do is chug another box of pop tarts, put your thinking cap on & simply change the film's title to something hopeful & inspiring. And if (and that's a BIG 'if') none of your executive meddling has interfered w/ the actual MOVIE...then I think you, your film & your company will be quite happy come Oscar time.

There, problem solved.
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12:29AM on 07/10/2013

SO stupid...

This is so fuckin pointless seriously.
This is so fuckin pointless seriously.
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+11
11:23PM on 07/09/2013
they rename it to "the movie" and hire Gerard Butler in a minor role, but put his last name in giant letters on the poster.
they rename it to "the movie" and hire Gerard Butler in a minor role, but put his last name in giant letters on the poster.
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12:10AM on 07/10/2013
LOL
LOL
10:30PM on 07/09/2013
Forest Whitaker: There and Back Again.

But wow, is Harvey Weinstein just extremely unpleasant or what?
Forest Whitaker: There and Back Again.

But wow, is Harvey Weinstein just extremely unpleasant or what?
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+15
6:44PM on 07/09/2013
They could rename it to "Oscar Bait." Truth in advertising, Mr. Weinstein?
They could rename it to "Oscar Bait." Truth in advertising, Mr. Weinstein?
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6:22PM on 07/09/2013
The Manservant.
The Manservant.
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+15
6:13PM on 07/09/2013
You have to love it when an uber-douche (Weinstein) is crying about how douchey people at other studios are being.
You have to love it when an uber-douche (Weinstein) is crying about how douchey people at other studios are being.
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6:12PM on 07/09/2013

Movie titles are not subject to copyright

obviously because as Weinstein pointed out we've had 122 instances already of movies coming out with the same title. A movie title is essentially a trademark. It is like a brand name: you can't call your soft drink "Coca cola" without the Coca Cola company suing you for trademark infringement. Basically the claim is that by calling your soft drink "Coca Cola" you are creating confusion in the marketplace: customers can no longer be sure that a can of soft drink labelled "Coca Cola" is
obviously because as Weinstein pointed out we've had 122 instances already of movies coming out with the same title. A movie title is essentially a trademark. It is like a brand name: you can't call your soft drink "Coca cola" without the Coca Cola company suing you for trademark infringement. Basically the claim is that by calling your soft drink "Coca Cola" you are creating confusion in the marketplace: customers can no longer be sure that a can of soft drink labelled "Coca Cola" is actually the product of the Coca Cola company. Therefore in addition to taking away from Coca Cola sales you are also hurting the Coca Cola brand name.

In this case, however, the likelihood of confusion between a movie coming out in 2013 and a movie that came out in 1916 is essentially zero. The only way having two movies of the same name can cause confusion in the marketplace is if the two movies were being released at the same time. It used to be that this was almost impossible because movies would play for a few weeks in the theaters and then only ever be seen on TV. Now however we have movies being released on DVD so we could have movies from years ago being released now on DVD with the same titles as movies being released in the theaters and this could cause confusion. It is possible that Warners are claiming that Weinstein is making it difficult for them to release their 1916 movie The Butler on DVD because people could confuse it with the Weinstein film. It is a weak argument: unless the Weinstein film is twenty minutes long and in black and white it is going to be extremely easy to distinguish the two films!
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5:13PM on 07/09/2013

An American Steward, White House Man, A Servent to Kings, The Presidents Man, The Servent, The American Man...

I mean, those aren't exactly gold, but that was 5 minutes of spit-balling off the top of my head... Break me off a cool million and we'll call it even Harv.
I mean, those aren't exactly gold, but that was 5 minutes of spit-balling off the top of my head... Break me off a cool million and we'll call it even Harv.
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7:12AM on 07/11/2013
They might pay you more if you knew that it's spelled "Servant".
They might pay you more if you knew that it's spelled "Servant".
5:11PM on 07/09/2013

Hmm.

On one hand, this is basically extortion. On the other hand, this is also Harvey Weinstein, so it's just karma against the man for fucking over so many films himself.

Hard to decide the lesser of two evils here.
On one hand, this is basically extortion. On the other hand, this is also Harvey Weinstein, so it's just karma against the man for fucking over so many films himself.

Hard to decide the lesser of two evils here.
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4:43PM on 07/09/2013
I know this might sound crazy but.... You could always, you know, COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL TITLE. Movie titles these days are awful anyways. Just come up with something better!
I know this might sound crazy but.... You could always, you know, COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL TITLE. Movie titles these days are awful anyways. Just come up with something better!
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5:00PM on 07/09/2013
The Butler as a title was used only twice before in the history of film, and those movies came out in 1915 and 1916. Oh, and they were short films. They didn't qualify as feature length films. This would be the first movie of feature length to use this title, with the other instances going back one hundred years, probably as a short silent movie. Therefore, despite Warner Bros bullying tactic, this is about as original of a title as you can have in Hollywood. If a title has not been used
The Butler as a title was used only twice before in the history of film, and those movies came out in 1915 and 1916. Oh, and they were short films. They didn't qualify as feature length films. This would be the first movie of feature length to use this title, with the other instances going back one hundred years, probably as a short silent movie. Therefore, despite Warner Bros bullying tactic, this is about as original of a title as you can have in Hollywood. If a title has not been used before for a full length film, how can you criticize it as being unoriginal?
5:09PM on 07/09/2013
The movie comes out in a month. The cost of changing all the promotional materials (posters, trailers, etc) would cost a lot. Its not as simple as just "Let's rename." They could simply JUST renamed it 6 months ago maybe.
The movie comes out in a month. The cost of changing all the promotional materials (posters, trailers, etc) would cost a lot. Its not as simple as just "Let's rename." They could simply JUST renamed it 6 months ago maybe.
+16
4:35PM on 07/09/2013
Weinstein is right. This is a pure joke. The first Hobbit movie made $1 Billion, and considering there are 2 more movies coming out, 2.5% of $2billion+ is at least 40M, which is a ridiculous amount of money to be asked to give up for a silly title.
Weinstein is right. This is a pure joke. The first Hobbit movie made $1 Billion, and considering there are 2 more movies coming out, 2.5% of $2billion+ is at least 40M, which is a ridiculous amount of money to be asked to give up for a silly title.
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-7
4:19PM on 07/09/2013
NM. First quote wasn't in article when originally read. Ignore.
NM. First quote wasn't in article when originally read. Ignore.
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4:31PM on 07/09/2013
Didn't bother reading the first quote?
Didn't bother reading the first quote?
4:32PM on 07/09/2013
"I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to THE HOBBIT they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic."
"I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to THE HOBBIT they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic."
4:33PM on 07/09/2013
Here let me help you out since you missed it...

""I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to THE HOBBIT they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic."
If that stake in THE HOBBIT films is the reason, that is a pretty greedy one if you ask me. Weinstein owns a 2.5% stake in THE HOBBIT films due to optioning the rights years ago. Granted, that percentage is a lot of money when you figure
Here let me help you out since you missed it...

""I was asked by two execs at Warner Brothers, which I’m happy testify to, that if I gave them back the rights to THE HOBBIT they would drop the claim. For a 1916 short? This was used as a bullying tactic."
If that stake in THE HOBBIT films is the reason, that is a pretty greedy one if you ask me. Weinstein owns a 2.5% stake in THE HOBBIT films due to optioning the rights years ago. Granted, that percentage is a lot of money when you figure in the billions the three Peter Jackson movies will rake in. Weinstein also made clear this title replication is nothing new in Hollywood:"

Now not sure if you noticed... but it says The Hobbit numerous times in there. Look at that, even has Peter Jackson's name in there too. Who would have thought?
4:36PM on 07/09/2013
The first quote wasn't in the article when I read it approximately 15 minutes ago. It's been put in since then. Funny how one misplaced quote can make all the difference. Thanks for making me look like an ass Maidy! *Shakes fist in air* And thanks for all the assery from fellow shmoes. It's appreciated.
The first quote wasn't in the article when I read it approximately 15 minutes ago. It's been put in since then. Funny how one misplaced quote can make all the difference. Thanks for making me look like an ass Maidy! *Shakes fist in air* And thanks for all the assery from fellow shmoes. It's appreciated.
4:38PM on 07/09/2013
Harvey wants to name his movie The Butler. Warner Brothers are claiming ownership of the name, allegedly in an effort to force him to give up his stake in The Hobbit.
Harvey wants to name his movie The Butler. Warner Brothers are claiming ownership of the name, allegedly in an effort to force him to give up his stake in The Hobbit.
4:54PM on 07/09/2013
English Mister Falcon, do you read it?
English Mister Falcon, do you read it?
7:06PM on 07/09/2013
В прошлом месяце у вас хороший сэр!
В прошлом месяце у вас хороший сэр!
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