Everything was looking great for Lee Daniels' film The Butler. It was able to override the odd press brought on by actor Terrence Howard, and it dropped an impressive trailer back in May. Now it looks as though the film might have hit a snag right before it rolls out with promotion.
What does The Butler have in common with a 1916 silent short? If your answer was, the title, then you would be correct. This is where The Butler finds itself in a bit of hot water. According to Deadline, reports are saying that The Butler may run into an issue because their title overlaps with the 1916 short film. Warner Bros is allegedly attempting to stop The Weinstein Company from releasing Daniels' film, claiming title rights.
While this may be a tactic on Warner Bros. part to keep the Weinsteins at bay during Oscar season, which would be smart considering their track record, this is still a bad move on Warner Bros. This title right claim comes after The Weinstein Company let Warner Bros keep The Good Lie despite the film sounding similar to The Good Life, which is owned by The Weinsteins. Despite this, Warner Bros claims the company should have cleared the title earlier.
The 1916 short film, The Butler is produced by Lubin Manufacturing Company and distributed by General Film Company which is part of the Warner collection. This comes as an appeal on behalf of the late film producer Laura Ziskin, whose last film was The Butler. It is reported that director Lee Daniels also gave his own personal appeal but was not successful.
It is said that an arbitration will be scheduled pretty soon, and it doesn't look like Warner Bros is letting this one go. Perhaps they're bitter because of their own delays with a once Oscar hopeful Gangster Squad? If you remember Gangster Squad was originally slated for an Oscar-friendly release date of September, and then the Aurora shootings happened, which caused the film to be pulled a part for various re shoots. Later on the film was released on January 11 to poor reviews.
The Butler is set to be released on August 16..