I am not a movie studio executive. I have no background in filmmaking, and I don't know very much about marketing. But even I know the importance of a film's title.
A title sets the entire tone for a movie. It is the simplest way to summarize a film to the audience. And, in the case of The Butler, it conveys an important message about civil rights injustices in our nation's history.
I was angry (and very confused) when I heard about the controversy surrounding the name of the new film The Butler. Warner Brothers is saying they will not allow The Weinstein Company to use this title because they have a short film of the same name. Their short film is from 1916 -- that's right, it's from almost 100 years ago! -- and it is pretty much impossible to find, even on the Internet. Claiming that this new movie will somehow take away from the 1916 short and cause confusion for audiences is almost as ridiculous as saying my name, Katy Butler, will create confusion. Should I change my last name so the Warner Brothers short is easier to find on Google?! The argument makes absolutely no sense, and we need to end it before it's too late.
By forcing The Butler to change its name, it pretty much prevents viewers from seeing it and being educated by its important message. After all, this title is the only title that could give appropriate context for the film's content. The movie is about the horrible struggle that millions of Americans went through during times of segregation, and it is told from the perspective of an African-American White House butler. To change the movie's title, first of all, just doesn't make sense. But also, it will affect whether or not audiences decide to go see the film. Which is a shame, because as Americans, each and every one of us would benefit from seeing it and talking about it. While many of us are aware of this sad time in history, we -- myself included! -- are ignorant to the details. I know that seeing The Butler would be an eye-opening experience for me and millions of others, and it upsets me that Warner Brothers has handicapped the film from impacting us before anyone's even seen it!
We cannot let this new film be called anything other than The Butler! It deserves the chance to reach millions of viewers, and a title change would ruin these chances.
Please take a second and add your name to the petition I created.
I can't argue this alone, but if enough of you argue with me, hopefully Warner Brothers will stop and listen.
Let "THE BUTLER" Keep Its Name!