Fox is out with a new trailer for the Ben Stiller-directed The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, and who wouldn’t have wanted to be a fly on the wall when the studio reached out to Warner Bros for permission to use its signature iconic Life Magazine? I’m told it came down to a couple of phone calls directly from the amiable Fox film chief Jim Gianopulos, as the magazine division was under the same roof when rights cleared. It sounds like Warner Bros was much more accommodating to its fellow major studio than it was to The Weinstein Company when the latter tried to release The Butler and was halted in its tracks because Warner Bros protected its stake in an equally defunct property, the black-and-white, silent short film from 1916. Now even though Fox sued Warner Bros and won a big settlement over a rights dispute on Watchmen, they still managed to come together here to give Stiller a nostalgic context for the redo of the daydreaming wannabe hero. Here’s the newest Mitty trailer:
I think The Butler brawl had a lot to do with the Warner Bros lawyers being sore about having to pay Weinstein that 5% first-dollar gross on two more installments of The Hobbit, after giving him the same extravagant payday on all three The Lord Of The Rings installments. But maybe I’m daydreaming and the studio really needed to protect its 1916 gem. Harvey was never going to give away those gross points, and it turned out that Warner Bros lawyers did him a favor. Weinstein titled his film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and it became one of the big indie hits of the year. The national awareness created by publicity from the title bout certainly helped that cause.