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Thursday, September 7, 2023

UPDATE on Lawsuit Alleging False Advertising in Movie Trailer

UPDATE on Lawsuit Alleging False Advertising in Movie Trailer

by Samuel S. Reidy, Esq.

September 6, 2023

Universal will not have to face a lawsuit which accused the studio of tricking people into watching the movie Yesterday by featuring Ana de Armas in trailers, even though she did not actually appear in the movie.  A U.S. District Court Justice found last month that the plaintiffs cannot pursue the proposed class action because they did not rely on alleged misrepresentations from the studio when making the decision to watch the film.

As you may recall from our December 2022 post, Universal released a trailer for its romantic comedy Yesterday in 2019.  Yesterday was a film that involved a musician waking up one morning to discover no one had ever heard of The Beatles.  He becomes rich and famous by introducing the music of The Beatles into the world and claiming to be its own.  He, of course, has a love interest in the film, but the trailer also showed actress Ana de Armas playing a character who would complicate that relationship.

Paul Michael Rosza and Conor Woulfe, who are big Ana de Armas fans, both rented the film by paying $3.99 to Amazon Prime and were disappointed to see that Ana de Armas’ scenes had been cut from the movie.  The film’s director claimed that, while the actress did excellent work, the disruption of the main love story hurt the movie and thus led to de Armas’ character being cut from the movie (but not the trailer).  Trailers are often released before the final movie is completed, sometimes even before all the scenes have been filmed.  Upon the discovery that de Armas was not in the movie as promised in the trailer, Rosza, who is from San Diego County, and Woulfe, who is from Maryland, initiated a lawsuit against Universal for false advertising pursuing a $5 million lawsuit as representatives of a class of movie customers who were deceived by the trailer.  Woulfe and Rosza’s lawsuit, describes de Armas as a "talented, successful, and famous actress," accuses Universal of exploiting her "fame, radiance, and brilliance to promote the film" because every other actor in the film had a "largely unknown" status.

However, the Court found that Woulfe, who rented the movie a second time on Google Play under the belief that de Armas could appear in a director’s cut, “lacks standing” to bring a suit because his “injury is self-inflicted.”  The Court concluded Woulfe didn’t watch Yesterday because of statements from Universal that de Armas appears in the movie.  He also found that there was no reason to believe that the “version of Yesterday they accessed on Google Play would be a different version of the movie” than the one they watched the first time.

To review the original blog post, check out:

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