‘The Butler’ keeps its name, with a caveat, as MPAA settles studio fight

July 22, 2013

An eleventh-hour battle over a new White House biopic has been resolved, with the MPAA ruling that producers can call it a variation on “The Butler,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The most likely option? Something like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in the movie formerly known as "The Butler. " (Anne Marie Fox)
Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in the movie formerly known as “The Butler. ” (Anne Marie Fox)

The original title of the film due out next month — based on a Washington Post story about longtime White House butler Eugene Allen — was challenged by Warner Bros., based on its ownership of a 1916 silent flick by the same name. The new “Butler’s” producer, Harvey Weinstein, fought back, noting that scores of movies have duplicated titles. Warner Bros., meanwhile, argued that Weinstein Company had a history of playing fast and loose with title rules.

Daniels, the director, has endured title confusion before: In 2009, he changed his “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire” to “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” to avoid conflict with another “Push” — and it did just fine, winning two Oscars.

Earlier: ‘The Butler’ battle heats up with David Boies in fight for movie title, 7/3/13

Dustup over ‘The Butler’ turns ugly as Weinstein, Warner Bros. spar over rights to film title, 7/9/13

‘The Butler’: A labor of love becomes an unlikely A-list production, 10/18/12

Read the original 2008 story: A butler well served by this election, 11/7/08

More Reliable Source: Jesse Tyler Ferguson; Aaron Schock; Michael Moore; Harrison Ford; Rahm Emanuel; Ed Markey; Tina Turner

 

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