Ana de Armas’ appearance in the trailer for the 2018 Beatles film Yesterday, despite ultimately being cut from the film, has resulted in a federal ruling that movie studios who deceive audiences with misleading movie trailers can be sued for false advertising. The move comes after two of the actress’ fans filed a federal class action lawsuit against Universal Pictures.
“Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson wrote in his ruling. “At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.”
The case will move to discovery, and a motion for class certification on the finding that film trailers are commercial speech and thus are subject to the California False Adverting Law as well as the state’s Unfair Competition Law.
Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza, who filed the suit in January, are seeking at least $5 million on behalf of other movie customers who also paid $3.99 each to watch Yesterday on Amazon Prime under the guise that the trailer would be reflective of the film itself — including seeing de Armas in the final cut.
“The Court’s holding is limited to representations as to whether an actress or scene is in the movie, and nothing else,” Wilson continued, clarifying concerns from the studio’s lawyers that the ruling could open the door for endless lawsuits on the basis of mere disappointment. The false advertising law would apply only to instances in which a “significant portion” of “reasonable consumers” were misled, as was the case with Yesterday.
De Armas was ultimately cut from the film, in which she was set to portray a love interest for Himesh Patel’s character, after audiences found her to be a distraction from the established plot with Lily James, the primary love interest, according to screenwriter Richard Curtis. Still, portions of her pre-filmed appearances showed up in the trailer.
“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana de Armas by the trailer for ‘Yesterday,’ but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana de Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit read.