'The Butler' Forced To Change Titles So You Won't Confuse It with 1916 Comedy

July 3, 2013


The Weinstein Company has lost a battle with Warner Bros. over the title "The Butler," forcing them to change the name of their upcoming drama based on the White House's actual longtime butler. Rather than just go with the alternate title Oprah Presents Forest Whitaker's Hall of Celebrity President Impersonations, they are going to fight this.

As with the Weinsteins' Bully, The King's Speech, and Blue Valentine ratings battles, at the center of this battle is those a-holes at the MPAA. Their title registration bureau is who just decided that the existence of a 1916 comedy short gives Warner Bros. control of the title The Butler.

Movie titles can't be trademarked, but the MPAA still protects them in much the way they protect 13-year-olds from seeing any boobs deemed too sexy. Their stated goal is to "prevent public confusion over films with similar titles," meaning their decision to side with Warner apparently stems from the worry you might think you're buying a ticket to a century-old collection of hilarious sight gags.

The always ready-to-fight Harvey Weinstein is, naturally, not going to accept this pretty ridiculous ruling, and has hired on big-named attorney David Boies--whose accomplishments include challenging the recently-defeated Prop 8, and being played by Ed Begley Jr. in HBO's Recount--to fight back with an appeal and possible lawsuit. It's not clear when the appeal will be heard and given a verdict, but since the film has an August 16 release scheduled, they should probably get something worked out soon. Should that not work out in time, TWC should feel free to use the title I came up with, "Domestic Policy." Good, right?

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