Warner Bros. tells CBS This Morning today that The Weinstein Company is guilty of “breathtaking hypocrisy” in the battle over “The Butler” title.
But really: Warner Bros. has bigger title woes than their “The Butler,” 1916 short film so insignificant that they don’t even list it in their own archives.
How about “Little Man of Steel”? Larry Ziegelman’s short film is listed on the IMDB and is playing the festival circuit. In the short, Lois and Clark go condom shopping. Ziegelman– a freelance art director and filmmaker– tells me he even put the short on the web for free a week before “Man of Steel” opened he got 12,000 hits. He also says he made his film before he even knew the title of the current Superman film. Here’s the trailer:
Warner Bros. has also lived on “The Dark Knight” for the last decade. But there are several films called “The Dark Night.” And the big studio has gotten away with it. Where’s the shock, horror, outrage?
I do think corporate giant has gone too far. They say they are protecting a 1916 short film called “The Butler.” Well, that film, directed by Edwin McKim, basically doesn’t exist. Though it’s listed in the Internet Movie Database, “The Butler” is unavailable in any format of any kind. Forget VHS or DVD– McKim’s “Butler” isn’t anywhere in the archives of the Paley Center, for example. And it’s not listed anywhere in Warner Bros’ extensive archives. Indeed, search the Warner Archives for “Butler” and you’ll only find Rhett, from “Gone with the Wind.”
It’s time to give this up. Warner Bros. is fueling a fight they can’t win. And in the process, “The Butler” is getting millions of dollars of free publicity. Any minute now The Weinstein Company will announce a White House premiere for the first week of August. Is Warners going to stop a movie with that title from playing here? I doubt it.