For all the cash and capital that flows through Hollywood, it’s still very much an industry prone to pettiness. With all those egos, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when one studio decides to screw over another. And yet, the news of Warner Bros. beef with The Weinstein Company over the title of the latter’s upcoming period-drama “The Butler” still feels random.
So the main issue Warner Bros. has with the Lee Daniels-helmed and Forest Whitaker-starring film is that the studio maintains that they still have the rights over the name thanks to a 1916 silent short titled “The Butler,” that’s now sitting in the WB library where no one probably knew it existed until now.
Now, why would such a big studio decide to comb through their entire library just to screw with the Weinsteins? One theory is that it’s a retaliation of sorts to TWC’s challenge to WB not too long ago over name of “The Good Lie,” which they felt was too similar to “The Good Life.” The thing is TWC eventually said “that’s cool bro” and eventually let it go. So what gives? Did Harvey Weinstein cut in line in front of somebody at Oscars afterparty? Or is Warner Bros. just really into keeping their titles all for themselves?
With “The Butler” (or whatever it ends up getting named) scheduled for release in just over a month, the Weinsteins don’t have a lot of time to sort this problem out. They’ve invoked the ghost of the late great producer Laura Ziskin — “The Butler” would be her last credit — and even had Daniels plead with Warner Bros. The only one who hasn’t weighed in yet is the film’s other prestigious producer, Oprah Winfrey. We’re not sure why the Weinsteins haven’t pulled out that big gun yet, but maybe they’re waiting for the right time. According to Deadline, the issue is headed for arbitration shortly, so we’ll soon find out who has the rights to a pretty bland title. We’ll keep you posted on how all this shakes out. “The Butler” hits theaters on August 16th and in the meantime, after these new pics from the film, leave your preferred alternate titles below.