If you haven’t heard, The Butler is an upcoming, true story film about a butler who serves in the White House under a number of presidents. The film has a number of big name stars including Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Lenny Kravitz and Terrance Howard and Oscar buzz is already surrounding the film. But just weeks before film is set to release, director Lee Daniels is finding himself having to rename the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Apparently there’s a short film by Warner Bros. made in 1916 with the same name and the MPAA’s Title Registry Bureau has told The Weinstein Company that they need to rename the film.
But Lee Daniels is deciding to go another route. He’s written a letter to the Warner Bros‘s CEO in a campaign to keep the title of the film and gain permission to keep the title.
Daniels’ letter takes a different tack, pleading his case by describing the film, which stars Forest Whitaker and is based on the true story of Eugene Allen, who spent 34 years working at the White House until he retired as head butler, as a film he made “so I could show my kids, my family and my country some of the injustices and victories African-Americans and their families have experienced in the fight for Civil Rights.” The movie, he continued, “tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement from the sit-ins and the Freedom Riders, to Selma, Martin Luther King’s assassination and the election of the first Black president.”
Daniels wrote that while working on the film “is the proudest moment of my professional career, I am heartbroken as I write this letter.” He explained that the modestly budgeted movie is not intended to be a blockbuster and “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.”
I hope they’re able to work it out, because the film sounds like its going to be a must-see.
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