It may be doing really well in China but Warcraft, Universal's big adaptation of the popular World of Warcraft games, didn't do nearly as well over in the States. Critically and commercially, America just didn't accept the story of a culture clash between Orcs and humans. Now the film is getting kicked while it's down. Universal is getting sued over the film, but for a very specific reason. It isn't getting sued for anything like fraud or copyright. The marketing for the film sent out texts messages promoting the film to people who hadn't given out their phones numbers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal is getting sued by Charlie Fitzgerald III, who received an unwanted text message from the studio. Fitzgerald filed the lawsuit Thursday in Florida Federal Court. He claimed that he did not give out his number to the studio, nor did he give consent for them to contact him. The message reportedly read
Hello from the Warcraft Movie team. You are one of the chosen few invited to join the fight today. Will you lead the Horde or Alliance to Victory?
The filed lawsuit believes Universal violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which among other things states that a solicitor cannot contact anyone without permission.
Fitzgerald claims that the number used to contact him is owned by Twilio, a company that allows users to send out mass market text messages. According to the suit filed by the Defendants lawyers, Twilio "issues warnings" to its clients not to use their service to break the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The suit goes on to say that Universal ignored these warnings and went on to send a mass market text message.
Fitzgerald is seeking $500 dollars in statutory damages for himself and anyone else who received a message for Warcraft without consent from June 24, 2012, to the classification of the class. That doesn't sound so bad for a major studio to pay off, but if the violation is found to be willful, then the damages will increase to $1,500. That means if Universal loses then they will have to pay Fitzgerald and anyone else who can prove they received the message, which could add up to a real chunk of change.
It isn't stated how many text messages Fitzgerald received, but one would imagine it was more than one or two for him to be suing the studio. You wouldn't think someone getting upset over a few harmless text messages, but if Universal did break the law then Fitzgerald simply might not want them to think they are invincible. Warcraft broke records in the foreign box office, while it flopped in America, so this text campaign was both ineffectual and it got them sued. Not too good of a weekend for Universal.