A federal judge ruled that two movie fans can allege false advertising against Universal Pictures in a lawsuit in which they contend the studio tricked them into renting the 2019 film “Yesterday” by featuring actress Ana de Armas in the trailer — but not in the complete movie, according to court papers obtained Friday.
Peter Michael Rosza, 45, of San Diego, and Conor Woulfe, 39, of Maryland, contend they each paid $3.99 to rent the musical romantic comedy on Amazon Prime, only to discover that de Armas was removed from the final cut.
The proposed class-action suit alleges that the trailer for “Yesterday” led fans to expect a full movie with de Armas, “but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana de Armas at all.”
As a result, “such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” Rosza and Woulfe contend in the lawsuit filed in January in Los Angeles federal court.
Universal asked U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson to dismiss the complaint, arguing that movie trailers have protection under the First Amendment. In a ruling Thursday, the judge rejected the studio’s claim, finding that trailers fall under commercial speech and are subject to the state’s false advertising law.
“At its core, a trailer is an advertisement designed to sell a movie by providing consumers with a preview of the movie,” Wilson wrote.
A Universal representative could not immediately be reached for comment.
The suit seeks to recoup at least $5 million on behalf of fans. The judge set an April 3 hearing to discuss class certification.
“Yesterday” is the story of a struggling musician who through a supernatural occurrence suddenly finds himself the only person who has ever heard of The Beatles and becomes famous after reintroducing their songs to the world. It gets its title from the 1965 Beatles song of the same name.
De Armas, 34, was originally cast to co-star in the flick. Although she appeared in the trailer and certain advertising, her role ended up on the cutting room floor, according to the suit.