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Federal Judge Ruled Movie Studios Can Be Sued For False Advertising

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A federal judge ruled movie studios can be sued for false advertisingif they distribute misleading trailers. And if you believed the choice was made based on years of Marvel movie footage that was only shown in trailers, think again.

Two disappointed Ana de Armas fans filed the complaint after watching the trailer for Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis' "Yesterday" and learning that de Armas was not included in the finished film.

In a proposed class-action lawsuit, those fans, who each spent $3.99 to rent "Yesterday" on Amazon Prime Video, are requesting $5 million in damages.

"Yesterday" is centered on a man, played by Himesh Patel, who unexpectedly finds himself in a world without The Beatles. De Armas, who would've portrayed a competing love interest to Lily James' role, appeared briefly in the movie trailer.

However, it's been said that her character and the plot of Yesterday were cut because they didn't go down well with viewers. Universal Pictures' attorneys stated that movie trailers have a lengthy history of incorporating scenes that aren't included in the theatrical release of a film.

Universal Pictures distributed the 2019 film. They highlighted the 1993 Jurassic Park trailer, which served as a prologue for the plot but didn't really show any movie footage.

The studio's attorneys claimed that movie trailers are protected by free speech rights, but U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson insisted that since they are fundamentally commercials, they must adhere to the same rules as other forms of advertising.

According to Universal's team, this may lead to false-advertising litigation, but Wilson argued that such claims would only be valid if a sizable portion of consumers felt misled.

A federal judge ruled that movie studios can be sued for false advertising and the court stated, "The Court’s holding is limited to representations as to whether an actress or scene is in the movie, and nothing else."

Over the past two decades, advertising trailers for video games have come under similar scrutiny, forcing regulators like the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority to receive complaints and take action on trailers for games like No Man's Sky and Aliens: Colonial Marines.

If movie companies get alarmed by the possibility of further legal actions akin to Yesterday's, it's possible that movie trailers will eventually have similar disclaimers. However, this legal dispute is focused on a particular film and a particular actress.

Studios might not stop putting unnecessary footage in trailers, but now that the Yesterday case has opened a door, they might be more cautious with tease cameos if the courts are around.

Conclusion

On Tuesday (Dec 20), a federal judge ruled that movie studios can be sued for false advertising if their movie trailers are misleading.

In a lawsuit involving the 2019 film "Yesterday," which is about a world without the Beatles, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson made that decision.

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