Two Ana de Armas fans may just have their day in court after a judge ruled that movie studios can be sued for deceptive movie trailers under false advertising laws.
On Tuesday, US District Judge Stephen Wilson issued a ruling on the fans’ January lawsuit brought against Universal Pictures. In the lawsuit, Conour Wolfe and Peter Michael Rosza allege that they each paid $3.99 to rent the studios’ 2019 film Yesterday – about a world void of the Beatles – on Amazon Prime after seeing De Armas in the trailer, only to find out the actor had been cut from the final film.
Universal attempted to dismiss the case, claiming that trailers are entitled to free speech protection under the First Amendment. The studio’s lawyers argued that a trailer is a three-minute “artistic, expressive work” used to convey the movie’s themes.
The judge, however, denied that argument, ruling that a trailer is commercial speech, making it subject to California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. The judge said the false advertising law would only apply when a “significant portion” of “reasonable consumers” could be misled.
“The Court’s holding is limited to representations as to whether an actress or scene is in the movie, and nothing else,” Wilson wrote, maintaining that it was plausible that viewers would expect De Armas to have a significant role in the film, based on Yesterday’s trailer.
Initially, De Armas was intended to feature as a love interest for Himesh Patel’s leading character Jack, but the film’s screenwriter Richard Curtis explained that she was eventually cut because audiences weren’t happy that Jack strayed from his primary love interest, portrayed by Lily James.
Woulfe and Rosza are seeking at least $5m in damages in the lawsuit against Universal Studios.