"The Butler" locked in copyright dispute
Warner Bros. is trying to block The Weinstein Company from naming its new movie 'The Butler'.
The two companies are locked in a legal battle ahead of the release of the upcoming Lee Daniels-directed historical drama, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, with Warner Bros. claiming it has the rights to the title because they own a 1916 silent comedy short of the same name.
Meanwhile, the new film - which tells the story of one man's tenure as butler in the White House during eight different presidencies - has been called 'The Butler' ever since it was acquired in script stage from Sony Pictures, so the company, led by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, is reluctant to back down.
Deadline.com is reporting that this ''petty'' dispute comes just weeks after The Weinstein Company challenged the title of the Warner Bros. film 'The Good Lie' because it sounded very similar to their own movie 'The Good Life'. They subsequently dropped the copyright claim and allowed them to use the title.
Warner Bros. are refusing to back down, however, even after director Daniels allegedly tried to reason with them and executives also pleaded 'The Butler' was the last film overseen by the late 'Spider-Man' producer Laura Ziskin.
The drama has been hotly-tipped for next year's Oscars, and will feature chat show legend Winfrey in her first film role since 1998's 'Beloved'.
The film stars Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, the titular character based on that real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, as well as an A-list cast of supporting actors including Robin Williams, James Marsden and Alan Rickman.