‘Butler’ Backers Petition MPAA Chief Chris Dodd As Title Fight Appeal Gets Underway

EXCLUSIVE: The appeal by The Weinstein Company of an MPAA ruling denying them use of The Butler┬átitle is just getting underway, with Harvey Weinstein out to overturn that judgement. At the same time, the investors who backed the Lee Daniels-directed film have made a direct appeal to MPAA chief Chris Dodd. After Deadline broke the story of this title battle, it has kicked up a ruckus I never expected and perked up what is usually a fallow period for news. Some have claimed TWC has done this for publicity, others have claimed Warner Bros is being spiteful, with Weinstein even claiming the studio has tried to force him to surrender the 5% first dollar gross participation he holds in The Hobbit. Believe me, that ain’t never going to happen–that condition was part of the turnaround deal when New Line founder Bob Shaye agreed to back three Lord Of The Rings films, and if he hadn’t, Weinstein would have made one, maybe two LOTR installments, without writer/director Peter Jackson. That move has meant billions of dollars to Warner Bros and changed Hollywood history. Weinstein got 5% of all those films, and that gross payment is so valuable now with two more Hobbit installments coming that if push came to shove, TWC would retitle its Lee Daniels civil rights drama. Despite the sentimental appeals and harsh words between the studios, this all comes down to lawyer horse trading between two studios that will begin if today’s appeal doesn’t overturn the verdict and if TWC continues to abide by the MPAA Title Registry (it is not a signatory studio). Some have speculated that the film could go out with an alternative title like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. Here is the letter that the film’s financial backers just sent to Dodd: (more…)

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2013/07/butler-backers-petition-mpaa-chief-chris-dodd-as-title-fight-appeal-gets-underway-544802/