A lawsuit filed by a couple of disgruntled Ana de Armas fans over the 2019 romantic comedy Yesterday it could have far-reaching ramifications for movie studios.
A California judge on Tuesday allowed parts of a lawsuit accusing Universal of false advertising, ruling that a movie trailer “constitutes commercial speech” and is not entitled to broad protection under the First Amendment.
The case began in January, when Paul Michael Rosza and Conor Woulfe sued Universal claiming they rented Yesterday with the expectation that de Armas would be in it because she appeared in a trailer, leading to their dismay when they realized she was cut from the film.
Universal’s attorneys sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that a trailer is a “work of art and expression” and therefore eligible for First Amendment protections.
universal Ana de Armas in the trailer for “Yesterday”
But according to a ruling by US District Judge Steven Wilson, obtained by Deadline Hollywood, “Universal is right that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but that creativity doesn’t outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer. Basically, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a film by providing consumers with a preview of the film.”
Wilson ruled that “the Court’s participation is limited to statements as to whether an actress or scene is in the picture, and nothing else.”
The case will now turn to discovery and potential class certification. EW has reached out to Universal spokespersons for comment on the ruling.
Yesterday, directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, stars Himesh Patel as struggling musician Jack Malik, who wakes up one day after an accident to a world that has mysteriously never heard of the Beatles. He receives worldwide recognition after introducing the band’s music and passing it off as him.
Lily James plays Jack’s love interest Ellie, while Curtis described de Armas’ excised character as “a complicating factor” for that relationship in an interview with CinemaBlend.
“It was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant. I mean really radiant,” Curtis told the outlet. “AND [that] turned out to be the problem… I think the audience likes the story [about Ellie and Jack] and it goes with that, and it works fine. What we originally did was have, I don’t want to describe it too much, but it had Ana de Armas as a complicating factor when she first arrived in Los Angeles. And I think the audience didn’t like that her eyes even wandered away. Because then some people would say, “Oh, he really doesn’t deserve it.” He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where there are some of our favorite scenes from the movie, but we had to cut them out for the sake of the whole thing.”