Film director Adam Watstein was thrilled when he got a hand-delivered letter from Miramax on Thursday, the day before his ultra-low-budget urban-themed pic “Bounce” was to preem at Gotham’s Urbanworld Film Festival.
He had been trying for months to get the attention of the Disney-owned subsidiary, hoping that the company would screen his as-yet undistributed movie, which tells the story of two young rappers trying to survive thug life in New York’s South Bronx.
Then Watstein, who paid for the movie using credit cards and money from waiting tables at Barney Greengrass, opened the letter.
“We urge you to take immediate action to change the title of your movie and to cease referring to it in promotional or other materials as ‘Bounce,'” read the missive. “In the event that you choose not to make appropriate modifications … you will force us to take action to defend ourselves.”
It just so happens that Watstein’s film has the misfortune to share a title with an upcoming Miramax-Universal co-production starring Miramax royalty Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck.
Currently in pre-production, Miramax’s “Bounce” is a romantic drama about a love affair that ensues after a guy gives up his seat on an airplane.
“You don’t get ‘bounced’ from a plane unless you hit a stewardess,” said Watstein, who named his film after the slang term meaning “to leave.” “You get ‘bumped.’ They should change their title to ‘Bump.'”
Unfortunately for Watstein, the people who developed the film registered the name ‘Bounce’ while the tyro helmer never did. Still, despite the threat of legal action, Watstein has no intention of bouncing “Bounce.”
“As far as I’m concerned, they are using our title,” said Watstein. “Our movie is finished, theirs only exists on paper.”