Woman Sues Over Misleading Movie Trailer; Wants To Make It A Class Action

from the our-litigious-society dept

Sure, we’ve all noted that various movie trailers may not be representative of the movie, but is that an illegal bait-and-switch? Sarah Deming apparently believes so, and somehow found a lawyer willing to sue over this awful deception (thanks to Will for sending this in). Her specific complaint? She expected the recently released movie Drive to be much more like The Fast and the Furious based on the trailer. You can see the trailer below:

The lawsuit claimed that the producers and movie theater “promoted the film Drive as very similar to the Fast and Furious, or similar, series of movies.” And yet… “Drive bore very little similarity to a chase or race action film… having very little driving in the motion picture.” She’s arguing that this violates Michigan’s consumer protection laws.

Oh, and to make it even better, she apparently would like to turn the whole thing into a class action lawsuit, so in case you, too, felt ripped off… This whole thing is so ridiculous, you almost wonder if it isn’t a bad viral marketing campaign for Drive.

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Comments on “Woman Sues Over Misleading Movie Trailer; Wants To Make It A Class Action”

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AvitarX (profile) says:

Re: Count me in

I thought it was a fairly accurate trailer. It certainly set the mood heavy, and not light-hearted (like fast and furious). I do think all of the driving of the entire movie was in the trailer though.

I’m somewhat amused, because my friend that recommended it to me said “don’t watch the trailer, it’s the whole movie”, and this woman thinks it’s deceptive.

It’s pretty clear from the trailer it’s going to be violent and have some serious ass-kicking.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


So, every action sequence and plot point they put into the trailer, and the rest of the movie is “filler”.

I can sympathize with the gal, but she should know better. If she’d downloaded the movie first she could see if it was any good–and then go to the theatre if it seemed like an awesome movie.

Well, that or like check Twitter for what people are saying.

Not hard, not hard at all.

Dave (profile) says:

Re: Typical

Used to be all I had to do was read IMDB reviews before going. Then I got tricked into seeing Transformers II while it had a 7.9 rating there. Significant astroturfing, or only idiots reviewed it on opening night? I still have the mental and emotional scars, and it was 9-10 months before I saw a theater release again.

Giant robot testicles. Please kick me in the head and make them go away.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: In the UK

I’m yet to see an argument that a trailer can make a movie not “fit for purpose”, though god knows I’ve been misled many times into watching crappy movies! That would be a very broad interpretation, though it’s no secret that having been burned so many times is the incentive for many to pirate.

I hope this sort of thing isn’t going to become commonplace, however. The whole problem with misleading trailers/posters is generally a problem with marketing departments trying to force movies into pre-determined boxes rather than coming up with something creative. I’ve already seen too many movies get buried at the box office because the marketing drones didn’t know what to do. I don’t need to see more incentives to only invest in cookie cutter crap, thank you very much. If you want to see them “up their game”, the last thing you want is for them to stop making anything their marketers can’t handle.

I know a number of people who think that Drive was excellent, but the crowd I talk to tend to be the ones who watched it because they said “oooh, a new Nicolas Winding Refn film”, not “oooh, it looks like Fast And Furious 27”.

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: In the UK

Im pretty sure the only way this would fly in UK court is if once you got into the movie, you realized that it wasn’t actually a movie. Im pretty sure Genre isn’t important in this connotation, only if it qualifies as what you paid for (a seat, to watch a movie).

You’d probably be luckier suing them for calling the orange sludge they serve ‘Nacho Cheese’, since its certainly not cheese, and those probably aren’t nachos….

Flubaluba (profile) says:


Just went to the theater to see Abduction. In the trailer they make it look like the lead character is being shot at while sliding down some angled window panes. This did not happen in the movie. Is that a failure to advertise the movie correctly? I remember renting a video and on the cover you had a girl running away from a helicopter, there was no helicopter in the movie. Where does this become illegal as it has been happening for years. Yes i now check out a movie before going to the cinema to pay to watch it. 😀

Anonymous Coward says:

That reminds me of the trailer for “The bridges to Terabithia” that had all the CGI scenes of the whole movie cramped into the 2-minute trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SvqEIKP4t8), making it feel like a Narnia movie (at the same time the Narnia movies were making it big at the box office).
So I never felt so cheated and stabbed in the back going to a movie after seeing the trailer when I realized it was far from the truth, that there was very few CGI (all of which I saw in the trailer) and adventure entertainment compared to Narnia, and that it was in fact a sad dramatic movie.
IMDB lists it as Adventure/Drama/Family, while I agree with Drama and Family, I don’t see how it can be listed as Adventure.

The trailer being so misleading, I would love to this this class action lawsuit gain some traction and set the movie studios straight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I got the reverse from that movie and trailer. Having read the book, when I saw the trailer I thought they were going to fuck up a great story by adding too many goofy CGI elements. I ended up waiting for a rental and was pleasantly surprised.

So they fooled you into going and fooled me into not going. Funny old world.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That reminds me of the trailer for “The bridges to Terabithia”

That was a bad one. Very deceptive. But the movie was pretty good. We liked it, even though it was very very sad.

And remember that trailer for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which made the movie seem like it was a Harry Potter type of movie? That also should have resulted in a lawsuit.

Rich says:

Re: Re:

Same here! My daughter and I thought it was a lighthearted fantasy movie. When the little girl died, we just stared at each other, dumbfounded. We felt extremely cheated. I’ve talked with other people who felt the same way. Since then, I never pay attention to trails. I read the reviews and comments online, before deciding to see a movie.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

I remember the Highlander movie that differed significantly from the trailer. There were scenes in the trailer that didn’t make it into the movie for whatever reason and I was pissed. Same holds true for music. If it’s not in the movie then why have it in the trailer.

Lastly, I saw Lake Placid in a movie theater many years ago. The film burned out just as the old lady was walking towards the shore, at the end of the movie. There weren’t many people in the theater at that showing and when I told the manager he just said ‘yeah sometimes that happens.’ I didn’t ask for my money back but a free pass or discount would have been nice.

So as ridiculous as this lady looks for suing the studio I am 100% behind her.

To me it’s like fast food places that show one thing in their advertisements but serve you something else.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“There were scenes in the trailer that didn’t make it into the movie for whatever reason and I was pissed. Same holds true for music. If it’s not in the movie then why have it in the trailer.”

It doesn’t mean much as an audience member, but the reason is that trailers are often cut well before the movie is finished (some movies are only finished a few days before release).

So, since the final cut hadn’t been made, the people cutting the trailer don’t know exactly what will be in it. The score might not have been written yet, and effects might not be complete. It’s not necessarily deliberately misleading, but I can understand how it’s annoying.

It would be better, of course, if the studios waited till they had a final product before they tried selling it, but that’s not how Hollywood works…

S (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The point is, that’s really how it should work.

To put it bluntly, false advertising is false advertising — period.

The fact that America pretty much lets ANY claims in advertising go unchecked (anyone else seen that horrid “I researched high fructose corn syrup . . . and now I’ve got one less thing to worry about” ad where they specifically imply there are no health risks associated with HFCS?) doesn’t change the fact that a merchant of any tangible or intangible good should ensure that the service they represent is similar to the service they render.

Now I’m not saying that ambiguous or “obscure” movie previews are a problem — I have personally enjoyed several movie preview campaigns where the actual premise (or setting) of the movie is completely unclear until one actually goes to see it . . . but in those cases, it’s obvious that the previews are just to tantalise interest — in the cases where one cultivates a specific impression about a movie, that impression should be accurate.

timmaguire42 says:

Movies are all kinda buyer beware, aren't they?

Of course trailers are misleading. How often do they come right out and say, “this movie sucks, I mean, really. It sounded nice at the pitch meeting, but, turns out, it sucks. Save your money.”

Never, and we don’t expect them too, either. That’s why we read reviews or wait for a friend to see it first. Cripes, suing for a poorly spent twelve bucks?

Look, lady, if truth in advertising applied to entertainment, the whole industry would collapse. And then what are you going to do on your next first date? Talk?

Anonymous Coward says:

I purposely avoid movies like the Fast and Furious series. I do have some sympathy for this woman as I have seen misleading trailers in the past that were far superior to the actual film. Someone should come up with a mock awards for movie trailers.
Categories could be:
Most Accurate Representation of Movie Contents
Most Effective Use of Voiceover
Most Minimal Use of Spoiler Footage
and most important for comedies…
Does Not Include Will Ferrell

Rick (profile) says:

You know, being over looked in the suit is this: “Drive was a motion picture that substantially contained extreme gratuitous defamatory dehumanizing racism directed against members of the Jewish faith, and thereby promoted criminal violence against members of the Jewish faith.”

So it was Anti-Semetic too? Of course it’s a brilliant tactic, after all, if the lawsuit gets shot down, the courts are also Anti-Semetic!

Arthur (profile) says:

Movie advertising

Back some time ago, my job was preparing ads for newspapers. We’d get the raw material, photos, copy, etc. and I’d arrange it to fit different sized ad space.

I’d see a movie come down, promoted as a romance. Then, a month later, it would be slanted as a comedy, then an adventure flick.

Same movie, just trying to find a way to get people to show up.

No, the ads have nothing to do with the actual movie. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know this by now?

Grae (profile) says:

Here’s the thing: chances are she probably doesn’t even believe what she’s saying or really gives a damn about whether the trailer accurately represents the contents of the movie. Ultimately it’s all about the money.

If you haven’t read the details of modern class action lawsuits here’s the bottom line: some group of lawyers makes bank (several million), a single individual who “represents” the class gets some money (a few thousand to tens of thousands), and the class itself gets some BS that’s not even worth real money (voucher for services worth less than $100 each).

Guess who this lady is in that setup?

Anonymous Coward says:

I had a similar feeling after watching Skyline. Wow! Whoever edited that trailer should get a medal or something, then smacked along side the head. That movie was a giant pile of turds, but the trailer looked interesting.

I do know that sometimes a deleted scene will be used on the trailer. (and by sometimes I mean often)

Another good misrepresentation of a movie would be Executive Decision, with Kurt Russell and Steven Segal. They made it sound like Segal was the star, when if fact he had a very small role.

lbwmoo (profile) says:

I could be behind her if

the suit is about misrepresentation based on sequences in the trailer that aren’t actually in the movie. I understand the the goal of the trailer is to cause intrigue in people which will lead to them seeing it. What they think of the whole movie doesn’t matter much, as they have already paid their money, and the trailer can’t be held responsible for the quality of the movie, as that is pretty subjective. But as for content, if it’s in the trailer it should be in the movie, elsewise I can honestly see how it’s false advertising.

S (user link) says:

Re: I could be behind her if

There are a million ways, between cutting, clipping, voice-over, and so-on, to create the impression that a movie is very different from its actual nature.

The obvious example is taking all two minutes of action scenes in a movie and remixing them together into the preview – causing any reasonable person to mistake a historical drama with one bar-fight for some kind of action flick.

Even worse are things like Bridge to Terabithia, where they took all the animated sequences and show those exclusively; anyone who hadn’t read the book would be entirely justified in expecting a whimsical animated fantasy movie when it’s . . not.

Big Blue says:

What else can we sue about that lies to us?

They have a Mc Donald’s advertisement here on the freeway on I10 that had Chicken Nuggets and said and then under it had large bold black letters “Chicken Nuggets: 20 pieces of Happiness”. I know for a fact that Chicken Nuggets from Mc Donald’s sucks big times. My kids get them as a kids meal and when I taste them I have had cardboard that tasted better then they do. Is that false advertising?

Funny Food Advertisements vs Reality – but true:

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: What else can we sue about that lies to us?

Wow. I worked at Taco Bell for a year after college, and they only put 1/3 to 1/2 as much meat in their tacos as depicted, using a special scoop for portion control. They also don’t put any more cheese on top than what is fully in view in the picture.

The taco on the left is therefore clearly false advertising, unless it’s actually legal to pile all of the meat and cheese on one half of a taco in advertisements but not in the actual product.

Nathan Payne (user link) says:

Most movies throughout the “low” movie months pack their trailers full of action, jokes, frights (what ever the genre is) in order to get as many people through the door and sitting in the cinemas.

She may have a point, but to actually sue and try to make a class action suit out of this is a joke.

P.S I haven’t actually seen Drive, so I have no idea if the trailer and movie are similar… 🙂

Nathan Payne – Trailer Geek

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