Butler: Fight Over Potential Oscar Contender

July 6, 2013–The fight over rights to Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” continues with an angry letter from Warner to the Weinstein Co.’s attorney David Boies. In Thursday’s letter, Warnerasserts that TWC is a voluntary member of the MPAA’s Title Registration Bureau, which oversees naming rights and rules for the film industry.

“The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, tells the true story of African American butler Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House during eight presidencies throughout the civil rights era.

The movie is considered to be a frontrunner in the upcoming Oscar season as potential Best Picture nominee, as well as sure bet for acting nods for both Whitaker and Winfrey.

“Over the years, however, TWC and its principals have operated in the TRB process with breathtaking hypocrisy,” the letter states. “They have used the TRB rules and procedures to extract concessions from, and initiate arbitration against, other subscriber companies in order to advance TWC’s own interests.” The letter also claims that TWC has used TRB’s rules to win arbitration against Phoenix Pictures and New Line over naming rights to “Got to be You” and “Curse of the Mask,” respectively.

The Weinstein Co. could not be reached for comment. Warner Bros. declined to comment.

On Tuesday, Warner won an MPAA ruling that declared that TWC violated WB’s title rights to “The Butler” due to the latter’s comedy by the same name. On Wednesday, Boies sent letters to both WB and the MPAA warning that he would file an appeal and seek an injunction against the ruling.

Daniels, who had previously helmed the Oscar-winning “Precious” and “The Paper Boy,” also made a personal appeal to Warner to keep the film’s title.