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'Lee Daniels' The Butler'The Weinstein Co.


Just when it seemed like "Lee Daniels' The Butler" was moving away from controversy, it comes roaring back.

For several weeks last month "Lee Daniels' The Butler" was embroiled in a costly and ultimately pointless legal battle with Warner Bros. over its original title, "The Butler," which also happens to be the name of an obscure silent short film from 1916 (yes, seriously). Ever since The Weinstein Co. retrofitted the movie's title to "Lee Daniels' The Butler," things quieted down -- until opening weekend, that is, when extra security at a Washington, D.C.-area screening reportedly suggested racial profiling by the movie theater.

Following a series of enraged tweets by Tiffany Flowers, a labor organizer who attended a Saturday evening showing of the film at the Regal Majestic Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland, the story was picked up by both local and national news affiliates. According to Flowers, there were armed policemen who both escorted theater patrons into the auditorium and also stood there, during the movie, facing the crowd.

Flowers told a local NBC affiliate that the crowd was mostly African American, and she felt that the additional security was an instance of racial profiling.

In response, Regal Entertainment Group issued a statement: "Regal Entertainment Group routinely employs security personnel to ensure the safety of all of our guests and staff. When a theatre experiences sold out showings of any feature, security will assist with crowd control and guest assistance throughout the facility, including auditoriums."

The Regal release continued, "At no time last night did local management receive any guest complaints or concerns about our security or staff, who worked diligently to meet all of our guests needs." (Clearly, they aren't checking Twitter very carefully.)

Despite this brouhaha, "The Butler" managed to eke out the number one position at the box office this weekend, with more than $25 million.

[via THR]