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©AP / Lee Daniels
© AP / Lee Daniels
Lee Daniels urges studio executives to save 'The Butler' title


Director Lee Daniels has written an emotional letter, urging studio executives to let him keep the title of his upcoming film, "The Butler."

The Weinstein Company's historical drama, starring Forest Whitaker as real-life White House butler Eugene Allen, is facing a name change after executives at Warner Bros. launched a legal challenge over the title. Warner Bros. bosses claim they own the rights to the title because they have a 1916 comedy of the same name in their back catalogue. Daniels' film is due to open next month.

In a letter to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, Daniels offers him a private screening of the film and urges him to drop the challenge.

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He writes, "I have spent the last four years of my life working on the film, 'The Butler,' and it is the proudest moment of my professional career. I am heartbroken as I write this letter to you ... I am so proud of this movie. Every member of our cast worked for almost nothing so that this story could be told with only our very small budget. If we were to change the title a mere six weeks before we open, it would most certainly hurt the film by limiting the number of people who would ultimately see this important story. This movie is not a blockbuster, nor did we intend it to be. We just wanted to tell the dark and beautiful story of our nation's racial history, where we came from, and how far we have come."

Jul 6, 2013 7:27AM
The WB powers that be need to drop their claim and let this movie keep its title. It will not be the first time there are movies sharing titles. From what I have seen of previews, The Butler (the new one) looks like an extremely good movie--I am guessing an Academy Award contender. If WB makes them change the title, that will just make them look poison mean...whereas doing this favor to the Weinstein Company could potentially yield future benefits. You know, as in "You scratch my back". And if they end up having to change the name, that might just pique people's interest further to want to see this movie, and completely backfire on WB.
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