Yesterday lawsuit ends, everybody loses

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The class action lawsuit against Universal over the non-appearance of Ana de Armas in 2019’s Yesterday has finally ended… and nobody is pleased about it.

Rewind back to the beginning of 2022 and you might recall that a curious lawsuit was announced that had the potential to change the way studios marketed their films. Two moviegoers decided to throw a class action lawsuit at Universal, claiming that the trailer for the film misled them into believing that Ana de Armas would appear in the film, not to mention Something, the song by The Beatles (like de Armas, also absent from the final movie).

In its defence, the studio pointed to the First Amendment and chose not to settle, probably because the plaintiffs were demanding damages of $5m. The dollar amount they’d actually paid to rent the film came to around $8. As you might imagine, this proved to be a problem with the class action lawsuit needing to then prove that – hold on a second – (whips out calculator) around 625,000 other Californian residents has been similarly duped to justify that eye-watering sum.

So while it was initially ruled that the plaintiffs had something of a case, it was the class action nature of the lawsuit that the judge didn’t like and last summer, that was thrown out of court. That meant the case could go ahead, but with just two people now claiming damages, the most they could expect to receive was that eight US dollars.

Read more: Yesterday review | A fun summer romcom

Then, in some legal blindsiding that we don’t fully understand, Universal was able to make the two men liable for a portion of the legal fees for the trial, a fee which originally stood at around $600,000. While that number eventually came down, it was still many, many times more than the measly sum the plaintiffs stood to make.

Things have been quiet since then, until today when Variety reported that a settlement has been agreed between plaintiffs and the studio. No details have been released as to whether any money has changed hands, but one thing is clear: nobody has come out on top here (apart from the lawyers of course, who have pocketed something likely approaching a million dollars).

The lawsuit itself seemed like a pretty cynical attempt to gouge cash from a big corporation and the duo at the centre of it have been put through the mill, as well as potentially having to pay Universal a monstrous sum.

The studio will likely also have had to foot part of those huge legal fees – and then there’s the waste of court time on what ultimately proved to be a rather frivolous endeavour. It’s all over now, but if there’s a silver lining to this sorry saga, it’s that studios might become more careful when cutting together trailers – just to avoid another incident like this.

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