Back in 2001, Sony Pictures was the recipient of a class-action lawsuit from angry customers who had been hoodwinked into seeing movies whose ads featured favorable quotes from film critics who (it turned out) did not exist. Today, the Associated Press reports that the company has settled the suit for $1.5-million. If you bought tickets to VERTICAL LIMIT, A KNIGHT’S TALE, or THE PATRIOT back then, you can get $5 back if you file a claim, according to Norman Blumenthal, the lawyer who represented ticket buyers in the suit. Any remaining money is supposed to be set aside for charity.
Sony Pictures did not have any comment, nor did they admit any liability, even though two executives were temporarily suspended back when the scandal first first erupted.
The lawsuit began with two ticket buyers in California claimed that an ad for KNIGHT’S TALE fooled them into seeing the film by quoting “David Manning of the Ridgefield Press” as saying that the film’s lead, Heath Ledger, was “this year’s hottest new star!” The Ridgefield Press, a small weekly newspaper in Connecticut, had no such film reviewer. Other ads to feature phoney quotes were for films like THE ANIMAL and HOLLOWMAN (pictured at top).
At the time, I wrote a lengthy article about the phenomenon of fake quotes, showing that the phenomonon was almost an inevitable result of a trend toward manufacturing praise by editing existing reviews or massaging reviewers into saying nice things by offering them a slot in the ads or on the posters. It’s too big to post here in the Daily Journal, so I’ve put it on the main website. Click the link below, if you’re interested.