FILM PRODUCTION MGM wins war over title 'Beauty Shop' for movie
An official said MGM had properly registered the title a long time ago.
LOS ANGELES TIMESX
HOLLYWOOD -- The legal and symbolic hair-pulling between MGM and an independent film company over competing projects -- both titled "Beauty Shop" and both set in urban beauty shops -- has been cut short for now.
But the "Beauty Shop" wars may still get ugly in the coming weeks as the two films compete for audience awareness.
UrbanWorks Entertainment, which alleged it had the rights to the title "Beauty Shop" for the upcoming comedy starring Mo'Nique and Kellita Smith ("The Bernie Mac Show"), has decided to rename its film "Hair Show," dropping a legal battle to keep MGM from using "Beauty Shop" as the title for its upcoming film starring Queen Latifah.
The Latifah "Beauty Shop," which also features Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou and Andie McDowell, is a spinoff of the popular "Barbershop" films that starred Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer.
The studio, which has targeted November for the release, hopes to use "Beauty Shop" not only to extend and expand the profitable "Barbershop" franchise, but also as a key component in its efforts to develop films appealing to urban audiences.
MGM Vice Chairman Chris McGurk said he is not concerned about the rival beauty shop film and possible confusion in the marketplace.
According to McGurk, MGM had long ago registered the title with the Motion Picture Association of America, and a teaser for "Beauty Shop" had been featured last year with the release of "Barbershop 2: Back in Business."
"We have the goods," he said. "We have a major production that is part and parcel of the successful 'Barbershop' franchise."
Meanwhile, UrbanWorks is currently scrambling to put the new title "Hair Show" on promotional materials, trailers and other advertising before the film's Friday world premiere at the eighth annual Urbanworld Film Festival in New York. "Hair Show" is scheduled to be released Oct. 1.
Jeff Clanagan, head of UrbanWorks, called the decision to change the title difficult and risky, but a necessary move to avert a legal battle.
"We have a huge awareness in the marketplace with our title," Clanagan said. "At the end of the day, we know we have a good film. Now we really have to buckle our boots and get dirty to re-educate our audience."
Corroborating on the decision was Magic Johnson. The former Laker star and businessman is an executive producer of "Hair Show," which will run at his chain of Magic Johnson theaters across the country.
"Magic endorsed this decision," Clanagan said. "We thought about the potential for harm if the film got tied up in litigation. We decided we didn't have the luxury to take that risk."
He said UrbanWorks had tried to discuss a settlement on the name with MGM, and filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court when the studio declined to discuss the matter.
The name change on the film, which was made for about $3.5 million, will cost "in the thousands, but we can't put a price on what it will cost to re-educate consumers." He said the studio had been promoting the movie since it was shot last year.
In "Hair Show," Mo'Nique and Smith play sisters who are hairstylists but have been apart for five years.
In "Beauty Shop," Latifah reprises her character from "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," opening her own beauty shop filled with outspoken and offbeat customers.