Suing the Devil

In a rather interesting twist of ironic fate, movie rental giant Netflix has come out victorious in a lawsuit levied by a film named Suing the Devil.

In a California lawsuit filed back in July, filmmaker T. Allen Chey held that Netflix, by refusing to purchase and offer his film, Suing the Devil that stars Malcolm McDowell and Tom Sizemore, to the company's 33 million members hurt his chances at financial success. So he sued Netflix for $10,000,000.

Naturally, the court threw the case out after Netflix filed a motion to dismiss. The Wrap reports that a U.S. District court judge didn't agree with Chey and his claim that people decided to "wait until it comes out of Netflix" because Netflix had placed the film on the site's page with a "Save" button. Chey also argued for lost revenue because he feels customers would have chosen to watch Suing the Devil in theaters or would have purchased the DVD or Blu-ray had they known it wasn't going to be available on Netflix. Chey called Netflix's actions "the most egregious act ever committed by a film distributor." Wow, the drama!

Those familiar with Netflix's standard practice know that the company routinely places a page for nearly every movie and TV show - with a save button allowing customers to add the title to their queues - on its site whether or not the rental company plans to carry the title. It's not surprising that Netflix chose to pass on carrying Chey's film as it is virtually impossible to carry every movie put on disc, but it's even more astonishing that this blatantly frivolous case even made it into court. Yes, we all hate seeing independent filmmakers struggle with the release of their films, but blaming failure on Netflix's "save" button not only reeks of desperation, but also feels a lot like misguided anger.

It's worth pointing out that there was definitely viewer interest in watching Suing the Devil when it was first released back in 2011, as the film had the second highest-grossing average of any independent film in the nation when it was released to theaters in August of 2011. Then in early 2012 the L.A. Times reported the film was the most illegally-downloaded independent film in history when, during a two-day period, the movie was downloaded over 100,000 times on nearly 50 pirate sites. Suing the Devil also made news around that time when a media pirating site campaigned its hackers to give the film a low rating on which brought Suing the Devil's score down from a 7 to a 4 on the film database and movie rating site. Seems the illegal downloaders were upset when the film's producers asked the hacker site to remove the title from its catalog.

By the way, Chey's Suing the Devil is no longer listed on the Netflix site with or without the "save" button.