The two fans claim that they rented “Yesterday” from Amazon Prime after seeing Ana de Armas featured in the trailer, only to find that all of her scenes had been cut from the final release.
Two fans of the Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas have filed a lawsuit against Universal Studios after renting “Yesterday” from Amazon Prime.
According to the B.B.C., the actress was featured in the film’s trailer but had—in fact—been cut from the final version.
In their lawsuit, plaintiffs Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza claim that they each paid $3.99 to rent “Yesterday” from Amazon Prime.
Now, the two are pressing a class action seeking an estimated $5 million in damages from Universal.
Both plaintiffs say that they most likely would not have rented “Yesterday” if they had known with certainty that Ana de Armas would not make an appearance in the actual film.
Ruling on the merits of the case, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson found that the claim was sufficiently compelling to proceed to the next stage in litigation.
Earlier, Universal Studios had petitioned the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that film production companies are entitled to far-ranging rights under the First Amendment, which protects free speech and the press.
In their motion to dismiss the case, Universal attorneys said that a film trailer is but an “artistic, expressive work.”
Referencing “Yesterday’s” trailer, they claimed that the preview is a three-money story that intends simply to convey the film’s themes.
Since a trailer could be construed as an act of artistic expression, Universal attorneys said, the trailer should be considered “non-commercial speech.”
Nevertheless, Wilson determined that—even while some film trailers might fit the definition of non-commercial speech—the class action involves a trailer that was underlain by clear commercial interests.
“Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer,” Wilson wrote.
“At its core,” the judge continued, “a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.”
In their briefings, Universal attorneys pointed to other prominent examples of film trailers containing scenes and footage not seen in the released, feature-length production.
They provided the example of Jurassic Park, the trailer for which depicted scenes that were almost all excluded from the final release.
Universal also suggested that, if this lawsuit were allowed to proceed, other filmgoers could file frivolous lawsuits against studios alleging that future movies did not live up to the expectations formed by the trailer.
Wilson, notes the B.B.C., sought to address this concern, observing that false advertising laws only apply when a “significant portion” of “reasonable consumers” could be misled by a trailer or other advertisement.
In the case of “Yesterday,” Wilson wrote, it would be reasonable for consumers to expect that Ana de Armas would play a significant role in the film.
De Armas, adds the B.B.C., was initially cast as a secondary love interest for “Yesterday’s” protagonist, played by Himesh Patel.
However, screenwriter Richard Curtis explained that De Armas’ role was eventually cut because audiences did not like the idea of Patel’s character straying from his primary love interest, played by Lily James.
Curtis had said in an earlier interview in 2019 that it had been “a very traumatic cut,” as De Armas had been “brilliant” in her scenes.
According to the B.B.C., “Yesterday” tells the story of a young man who wakes up after a bicycle crash to discover that nobody on earth remembers The Beatles.
The protagonist eventually becomes famous after performing the songs himself, forcing him into a personal dilemma when he is credited as the writer of the songs.