Remember when Ana de Armas was in Yesterday, the movie set in a grim post-apocalypse where The Beatles never made it big? If you don’t, you have a good excuse: She wasn’t in it. She was, however, in the trailer, prompting fans of the Knives Out and then-future Blonde star to rush out to see it — only to find that, much like the Fab Four in the film, she’d been mysteriously removed. To most, that wouldn’t be that big a deal; the trailer suggested her role would be supporting at best. But some, who only rented the film to see her, were so appalled they sued the distributor for false advertising. Now the suit is moving forward, which lawyers argue may make the makers of trailers extra paranoid about what footage they use.
As per Variety, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit, filed by two de Armas fans — one from California, the other from Maryland — could move forward after Universal sought to get it thrown out. Universal lawyers argued two main points: that a trailer is an “artistic, expressive work,” and therefore protected by the First Amendment; and that trailers have long used footage that didn’t ultimately wind up in the movie. The original Jurassic Park teaser, for instance, featured no footage that made the final cut.
Lawyers also argued that classifying trailers as “commercial speech” could open the door to all manner of litigations, especially if audiences felt the trailer oversold the movie. (Some viewers in 2011 got litigious over the ads for Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s brooding art film thriller with Ryan Gosling, which they said made it look like a Fast and the Furious entry.)
Alas, the federal judge rejected those arguments and the case can now head for courts.
If you’re looking for someone to blame for having the stones to cut Ana de Armas out of any movie, don’t blame the filmmakers or the studio. Blame test screening audiences. The actress was supposed to play a celebrity (possibly herself) who’s serenaded by our hero (Himesh Patel), who’s found himself to be one of the only people on the planet who remember that The Beatles existed. Those viewers hated that Patel’s character would fall for someone who wasn’t the main love interest (Lily James) — but evidently had no problem with him fobbing off Beatles songs as his own.
And now they’ve not only gotten de Armas cut from a movie, they’ve also made movie trailer makers’ jobs harder.
You can watch the offending Yesterday trailer below. Ana de Armas’ bit starts around the 1:53 mark.