[OT] The Super Bowl vs. Movie Theatres

I hope I don’t get into trouble with the NFL for identifying The Football Match That Dare Not Speak Its Name: this really has to be one of the more extreme applications of trademark law.

Does anybody know offhand whether MLB similarly clamps downtown on people’s use of “World Series”? Though I suppose the World Series isn’t the same sort of cultural event: only Thanksgiving and Christmas garner the same sort of supermarket displays as the S**** B***.

But I digress. So unlike me.

I was wondering what everybody’s sense was re whether movie theatres are likely to be less crowded today (because people are watching The Big Game), or more crowded (nothing else to watch on tv, or fewer people to hang out with because of The Game).

(I will be answering this question definitively today, basing my findings very scientically on a single multi-plex in western New Jersey)



  1. Well, I was kind of hoping the ski slopes would be less crowded, but alas, the pre-game shows don’t even start until after the lifts close.

  2. The movie theaters will be less crowded, I would say. Super Bowl Sunday has been one of the lowest-grossing Sundays of the year at the box office in recent years, and often the lowest-grossing Sunday of the year.

  3. I’m not remembering enough details for this to be any use to anyone, but I seem to recall that one of the hockey teams cracked down on bars using their (the team’s) name for promotions if they weren’t affiliated. (Or maybe if they weren’t selling Molson beer, because Molson had cracked down on the marketing?

  4. Okay, so the theatre was almost empty: then again we were seeing The Post. and I have no idea how many people without AARP cards would have the slightest interest in a film about the Pentagon Papers.

  5. The thing is, the NFL got the reputation for suing everyone who uses the term “Super Bowl”, without suing anyone for using the term “Super Bowl”, and then sits on its hands as people go ahead and continue to believe that the NFL sues everyone who uses the Term Super Bowl.

    The reason the NFL doesn’t sue everyone for using the term “Super Bowl”, of course, is that they can’t. That’s not how trademark law works. But the general public has no idea how trademark law actually works. The NFL has no interest in educating them, as long as their misunderstanding works in the NFL’s favor.

    The NFL DOES, on the other hand, sue business establishments that use the Super Bowl to draw customers, without paying a licensing fee for the right to do so. That *IS* how copyright law works.

  6. They didn’t just not sue anyone for using the term Super Bowl. I believe they also made vague threats to sue, even though they most likely knew that they couldn’t get away with it. And as long as the loser doesn’t end up having to pay the other side’s court fees (which I believe is true in many American jurisdictions?), the winner is whoever can afford to drag litigation out longer, whether or not they’re right, so most news organisations, etc, choose not to risk it.

  7. Meanwhile bakeries everywhere in the US are selling confections bearing the trademarks of local NFL teams.

    The Pats are particularly tasty….

  8. “I believe they also made vague threats to sue, even though they most likely knew that they couldn’t get away with it.”

    This is common in descriptions of urban legends. Can you point to anyone who received such threats? Or is it just something that “everyone knows about” even though there are no specific cases?
    (The NFL DOES sue to enforce its legal rights. They DO threaten to sue to enforce its legal rights. The right to keep people from saying or writing “Super Bowl” is not one of them.)

    “And as long as the loser doesn’t end up having to pay the other side’s court fees (which I believe is true in many American jurisdictions?)”
    The rule that each side pays their own lawyers and court costs is known as “the American rule”. In American courts, unless a statute explicitly contains a provision allowing the award of fees and costs to the prevailing party, the rule holds.
    Trademark law, however, DOES permit a court to award fees and costs to a prevailing party. What would trigger such an award? Well, lots of things would. Filing a meritless claim solely for the purpose of imposing costs on the other party would definitely qualify for an award of fees and costs, both under the Lanham Act (as amended). Additionally, there’s ALSO the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically, FRCP 11(b). (Note that FRCP 11(b) sanctions apply to both the party AND the lawyers who filed them.)

  9. I’m not sure what counts as a source. I didn’t think to check Snopes, I trusted https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120202/04205917638/hey-advertisers-stop-believing-nfls-lies-about-trademark-law-call-super-bowl-super-bowl.shtml, which I ought to know better than to do.

    I’m glad that if the NFL did try to sue they would have to pay the other side’s costs. Unfortunately, there is the problem that you still have to have enough money to make it to the court order that they do so. (There is also a perception in Canada that Americans are really quick to settle out of court in general, because the American rule so often applies, I don’t know if this is true or not.

  10. Look, I’ll be earnest here: that movie about the Pentagon Papers riveted me, and the ending that set the movie up as if it were a prequel to All The President’s Men had me leaving the theater with the excited feeling that I failed to get in any way for Rogue One; this movie, to me, was the exciting, latter day prequel to a blockbuster movie from my youth…

  11. Don’t blame Lucas for Rogue One: he didn’t make that one. Blame him for Parts 1, 2, & 3 all you want.(*)

    The fundamental flaw in the ending of Rogue One was using a digitized double for Carrie Fisher, paired with the same sort of trite line about “hope” that was rehashed too often in the original movie.

    P.S. (*) I told my son that the next time he watches Part 2 or 3, he has to switch the DVD to German, because I’m tired of the wooden dialog that Lucas wrote in English.

  12. “The fundamental flaw in the ending of Rogue One was using a digitized double for Carrie Fisher”

    Didn’t bother me.
    What did bother me was that it undercut an important sequence in Star Wars. Specifically, the Princess is captured by the stormtroopers and brought to Vader. She claims to be on an innocent consular mission. Before Rogue One, this is an act of deliberate defiance (and we don’t know if it’s true or not; shortly thereafter Vader commands that the ship be destroyed after sending a false distress signal, clarifying that he is, in fact, the bad guy.)

    Now, having seen Vader wade through a hallway of rebels and miss her by a matter of meters, she knows that he knows her innocent consular mission story is utter BS. So what was the point of it? It just looks petulant, rather than brave.

  13. The local supermarket was completely deserted tonight, FWIW.

    (unrelatedly: is it just me or is there no link on the front page that leads to pages of older posts?)

  14. We don’t need Rogue One to know that she was lying to Vader. Her message to Obi Wan, and the stolen plans that she hid in R2D2 proved in the original movie that her mission was not diplomatic.

  15. Semi-related: Walt Disney’s first TV show was a 1950 Christmas Day special titled “One Hour in Wonderland”; it ran in the afternoon and was a big deal event. Over the closing credits, an announcer plugged a current Disney release and urged viewers to get out and go to a movie “tonight!”

    Were (are) movie theaters busy on Christmas night?

  16. A group of us went to see TLJ Christmas night (last show of the day, maybe 10:30PM?) and while it wasn’t packed, it was far from empty (and for a movie that had opened 10 days earlier). No idea how busy they were earlier in the day or for things that had just opened.

  17. Speaking as somebody who goes to the movies every Christmas, theatres do a pretty good business that day. And the past few years, the recently-released SW movie seems to have the longest lines.

    This past Christmas, 3 Billboards Outside of Wherever was sold out.

  18. I don’t know about theaters, but legend has it that Chinese restaurants do pretty good business on Christmas.

  19. Two related data points.

    I live in the Seattle area, and a few years ago I took my kids to a local children’s museum when the Seahawks were in the Superbowl. Every other time I’ve taken my kids there, it was packed with kids competing over toys. That’s the only time the place was deserted. I think there were maybe three other families in the entire place. When we checked in at the front desk, the first thing the staff member said to me was “we have a radio in the back area, if you want to at least get updates.”

    Yesterday, my (white, American-born) wife took our daughter to a birthday party thrown by a family that came from India sometime in the last couple of years. When she got there, they immediately said “Oh, wow, you came! After we sent out the invitations, the teacher told us no Americans would come, because they’d all be watching the Superbowl.” And, in fact, my wife and daughter ended up being the only non-Indians at the birthday party.

    There, three data points, that’s pretty scientific now.

  20. Kilby: Re: digitized Carrie Fisher. Yes, ugh. (Didn’t ruin the movie for anything, but ugh,)

  21. Well, every *effing* person was taking a walk in the park so that blew *that* assumption out of the water.

    (On, the other hand, yesterday was an exceptionally nice day.)

  22. “We don’t need Rogue One to know that she was lying to Vader”
    You miss the point. (And also the biggest example… Grand Moff Tarkin says “She lied to us!” regarding the Alliance’s base on Dantooine).
    What we see in SW is her standing up to authority. Vader is unable to torture a confession out of her, because (we assume) she’s lying to protect the other members of the Alliance. But, when you add in Rogue One, and we now know that he only just barely missed catching her as she got the Death Star plans, she isn’t being brave, protecting the other members of the Alliance, when she stands up to him. She’s just being petulant, lying out of habit.

  23. “is it just me or is there no link on the front page that leads to pages of older posts?”

    I use a browser that doesn’t, by default, process javascript. This left me with a front page that had however many entries on it, and nothing to show there were more that were not displayed. I didn’t figure it out until some new items were added, and thus pushed off some older ones, and I set up the browser to process javascript for this page, and poof! another dozen entries manifested.

    So, I’d ask you, are you blocking scripts?

  24. @ JP – I disagree with your interpretation of lying vs. petulance entirely, but there’s no point in pursuing the issue, since lawyers have the habit of arguing until they are the only person in the room left talking, and then assume (incorrectly) that they have somehow “won”.

  25. “I disagree with your interpretation of lying vs. petulance entirely”
    That’s your problem.

    “lawyers have the habit of arguing…”
    Why don’t you leave me out of your distaste for your lawyer?

  26. “have I ever given the impression I even know what that means?”

    Maybe that’s why I didn’t ask you about it (besides the fact that it’s referring to something DiB is or might be doing, not something that you are or can be doing.)

  27. Bill – some time after Robert and I were married I first heard about Jewish people eating Chinese food and going to the movies on Christmas Day. Growing up I always just assumed that movies and restaurants were closed for Christmas as it was such a big deal. (I come from people who eat home or at a relatives for holidays.)

    So, before I heard about Jews and Christmas, Robert, bored with his family for the day and having had Christmas dinner mid-afternoon, would take me to the movies.

    Some decades later when we did not want to go to his sister’s house for Christmas Day dinner, he looked around and based on how we eat and what we could afford,we started eating Christmas Day dinner at Asian buffets.

    So, I may be Jewish, but never when to the movies or had Chinese food for dinner on Christmas until my Italian Catholic boyfriend/husband took me to same.

    Since we have been going the movies and restaurants have always had crowds on Christmas.

  28. Bill: he means me, and yes, I keep javascript disabled, particularly of late. It is not surprising I guess that this makes the next-page button fail to appear, but annoying. I guess I’ll live. It’s less annoying than gocomics, which as of a week or two ago now displays blank frames where the comics used to be.

  29. 39) I suggest we all just manually enter our comment number when we submit comments. It is easily done by just taking the number of comments listed and adding one. When Bill takes a comment out of moderation, he will of course have to edit all the subsequent comments to correct the comment numbers.

    PS: 😛

  30. I was wondering about all the tsuris about lack of numbers because I see them clearly.
    If I turn on CSS, they disappear. So, if you turn off CSS, they’ll appear for you, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s