Taking a page from Tyler Perry’s movie title book, the dispute over The Butler title is now settled. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ruled Friday, July 19, that The Weinstein Co. (TWC) can continue with the title The Butler as long as it’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
In a statement, Harvey Weinstein, TWC Co-Chairman said, “We are thrilled this has all come to an end and has been resolved. The MPAA’s overturning of their original decision to now allow the use of ‘butler’ in the title is a victory for Lee Daniels, the film’s 28 investors who believed in it, America’s greatest attorney David Boies, and especially in the memory of my friend and the film’s producer Laura Ziskin. Now we can focus on the importance of Lee Daniels’ film, the amazing performances by Forest, Oprah and the incredible cast who spent countless months bringing this story about American history and civil rights to screen.”
It’s not all gravy though because TWC, which had enlisted support from the NAACP’s Ben Jealous, Rainbow Push’s Jesse Jackson and CORE’s Roy Innis, has to pay up to the tune of $400,000 in fines for violating the MPAA’s July 2 ruling. According to Variety.com, “TWC will have pay a fine of $25,000 a day, dating back to July 2, or $400,000 for violating the initial ruling, and face stiffer penalties if it refuses to change its marketing campaign. The fine will increase to $50,000 a day if the studio fails to issue new digital materials (trailers, TV ads) by July 26 and new print materials by Aug. 2.”
In addition, Variety.com reports that “TWC will also have to pay $100,000 to the Entertainment Industry Foundation and up to $150,000 to cover Warner Bros.’ legal fees.”
But the good news is that August 16 is still a go as Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey and so many others breathe life into Lee Daniels’ The Butler.