Forest Whitaker in The Butler (the Weinstein Co.)
Forest Whitaker in The Butler (the Weinstein Co.)

The Butler has been one of this year's most buzzed-about films. Posters and advertisements with the film's title can be seen in theaters and on billboards. A trailer has already been released as well. But now the Weinstein Co., the studio in charge of releasing the film, will have to rethink one part of its strategy: the title.


According to Variety, Warner Bros. won an arbitration over the rights to the title. The Weinstein Co. must select another title and remove the current title from "marketing, promotional and other material related to the film."

Warner Bros. had asserted it has rights to the title, due to its ownership of a 1916 comedy short of the same name, and that TWC did not clear the title with Warner Bros. [TWC attorney David] Boies blasted the ruling in a statement.

"The suggestion that there is a danger of confusion between TWC's 2013 feature movie and a 1917 short that has not been shown in theaters, television, DVDs, or in any other way for almost a century makes no sense," Boies said. "The award has no purpose except to restrict competition and is contrary to public policy."


The arbitration ruling was brought down by the Motion Picture Association of America's Title Registration Bureau, which is in charge of regulating titles.

The film that might now formerly be known as The Butler is directed by Lee Daniels and stars Forest Whitaker as Eugene Allen, the real-life White House butler who served under eight U.S. presidents, starting from Harry Truman and ending with Ronald Reagan. The film also stars Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard and Robin Williams; it is scheduled to be released in theaters Aug. 16.  

Read more at Variety.

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.

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