The Lawsuit Over Ana De Armas' Cut Yesterday Role Has Reached A Decision That Could Have A Major Impact On The Film Industry

Ana de Armas in Yesterday trailer
(Image credit: Universal)

The 2019 Universal movie Yesterday imagined a world where the Beatles never existed for nobody for one man and he used this advantage to become a beloved musician. And in the movie’s trailer, Blonde and Knives Out actress Ana de Armas was teased to be among it stars. Since de Armas was cut from the actual film, two fans decided to sue a class action lawsuit back in January. A decision has now been made by a federal judge and it could impact the film industry going forward. 

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson has ruled that movie studios can be sued under false advertising laws if they release a deceptive movie trailer like Yesterday, per Variety. While Universal argued that it was entitled to protection under the First Amendment, the judge found that a trailer is commercial speech, and thus subject to the California False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law. As Wilson wrote: 

Universal is correct that trailers involve some creativity and editorial discretion, but this creativity does not outweigh the commercial nature of a trailer. At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie.

Lawyers for Universal argued that if it was ruled that trailers were considered “commercial speech” rather than the “artistic, expressive work” they defined it as, tons more lawsuits from unsatisfied moviegoers with subjective claims could follow. However, Wilson clarified that the court’s holding would only be limited to circumstances regarding whether an actor or scene advertised in the trailer is in the movie. Such as in the case of Yesterday, where it was “plausible” Ana de Armas would have a role to play in the movie based on Yesterday trailer, which you can check out below: 

Nearly two minutes into the trailer, Ana de Armas sits next to Himesh Patel’s protagonist during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden and he serenades “Something” to her. According to Yesterday’s writer, Richard Curtis, the scene was cut because audiences were not happy with the idea of Patel’s character straying away from the love story between him and Lily James’ character. 

When the plaintiffs, Conor Woulfe of Maryland and Peter Michael Rosza of San Diego County each paid $3.99 to rent Yesterday on Amazon Prime after viewing the trailer, they were disappointed to not see Ana De Armas in the film, not knowing the actress was cut from the movie. The two men are seeking at least $5 million from Universal, on behalf of themselves and other affected consumers. 

There have certainly been other instances of trailers showing actors and scenes that would later not be present in the finished film. Various instances in Marvel, Star Wars and Harry Potter trailers that didn’t match up to the finished film have come up in prior years. Oftentimes trailers are cut before finished products are ready, and in the months between the trailer and the release, filmmakers or studios could make new creative decisions, including cutting roles and scenes. With this new ruling in place, the film industry is going to have to be especially careful about this. 

Even without Ana de Armas, Yesterday received positive reviews overall from critics, including CinemaBlend’s Mike Reyes, who gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars in his Yesterday review. Ana de Armas latest films, The Gray Man and Blonde, can be viewed with a Netflix subscription

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.