Ana de Armas fans have sued Universal Studios after the actress failed to appear in Yesterday, despite appearing in promotional materials. Yesterday is a 2019 musical drama film directed by Danny Boyle and starring Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Ed Sheeran, and Kate McKinnon. The film follows Jack Malik (Patel), a struggling singer-songwriter, who wakes up from an accident one day to find himself in a world where the Beatles never existed. Performing the Beatles’ hit songs to a world that is unfamiliar with them, Malik finds himself becoming an overnight sensation.
Yesterday received largely mixed reviews, with critics considering it a rather mediocre film, but with the heart, warmth, and charm to make up for it. However, the film did receive glowing approval from the viewers that mattered the most: the living Beatles’ band members or their widowed spouses. To make the film, the creators had to navigate around some legal hoops in order to include the music and references to The Beatles. This included paying $10 million for the rights to utilize their music and getting permission from the Beatles and their families. However, the film has now found itself in legal trouble for an unexpected reason.
As reported by THR, Universal Studios is being sued by Armas’ fans for failing to feature the actress in Yesterday despite featuring her in the trailer. Originally, Armas was set to appear in the film as a love interest to Malik, but her scenes were cut and she did not appear at all in the film upon its release. However, Armas did appear in the trailer, in a scene where she and Patel appear on the James Corden Show together. Now, Californian resident, Michael Rosza, and Maryland resident, Conor Woulfe, are suing Universal, alleging that they were tricked into watching Yesterday by being made to believe Armas was in it. Check out the complaint below:
Although Defendant included the scenes with Ms. De Armas in the movie trailer advertisements, for the purposes of promoting Yesterday and enticing film sales and rentals, Ms. De Armas is not and was never in the publicly released version of the movie. Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film by including her scenes in the movie trailers advertising Yesterday.
The lawsuit criticizes Universal’s decision to feature Armas in promotional material, only to have her cut from the final film. It claims that Universal purposely made that decision because the other stars of the film weren’t big enough to attract an audience. Another point of the lawsuit is that the Yesterday trailer also featured the Beatles song “Something,” even though the song didn’t make it into the final film either. By utilizing the popular song in the trailer, the lawsuit claims Yesterday again misled fans into watching the film. Rosza and Woulfe are demanding $5 million on behalf of Californian and Maryland residents who paid to watch the film.
The prosecutors in this case certainly bring up some intriguing points. However, it will be difficult to determine if Universal Studios can be held liable. It is not uncommon at all for actors and actresses to be cut from the final version of a film, and there are contracts in place to avoid legal troubles. What makes this lawsuit interesting, though, is that it is not an actor or actress themselves suing, but fans of the actress. Rosza and Woulfe’s lawsuit raises the interesting question of if a film can be held accountable for misleading viewers with promotional materials. If so, it would certainly create a whole slew of issues as many films’ promotions can be accused of inaccurately depicting the actual end result. However, if Universal Studios can be proven to have intentionally misled viewers by featuring Armas, then there might be a case. It remains to be seen how the Yesterday lawsuit will be settled, but this case will likely set a precedent for how films handle promotional materials featuring cut actors/actresses in the future.
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