Lee Daniels (“Precious”) is in desperate need of a hit. The director of that all-star flop “The Paperboy,” producer of the flop “Tennessee” and director-producer of the embarrassment “Shadowboxer” (two OScar winners humiliated by that mess) would LOVE to get his hands on the Janis Joplin bio-pic that is making the rounds as a project to be.
But “The Butler,” the story of a servant who serves eight presidents and lives long enough to see lynchings and Jim Crow end, the Civil Rights movement and Barack Obama in the White House, has been tied up in MPAA negotiations with Warner Brothers over the rights to the name — which WB says it owns, since in 1916 a silent comedy with that title is in their back catalog.
That the MPAA agrees with this nonsense is the stuff of eyerolls. That Warners bases its claim on that title based on a movie that few among the living have seen is a hoot. I chatted with a waitress the other night who was shaking her head over “Man of Steel,” but who has never seen the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. People don’t watch old movies. Period.
The extra attention won’t hurt the film. which is coming out awfully soon. A little extra buzz for star Forest Whitaker, et. al., cannot hurt. Daniels needs this movie to open to decent reviews and a bit of box office, otherwise his “Precious” bounce will have been squandered.
Maybe it’s personal — WB folks hating the Weinsteins.