Sex, alcohol and attorneys’ fees: Brewvies seeks half a million dollars from Utah after ‘Deadpool’ citation

The theater incurred a bill of $534,431.05 for attorneys’ fees and other expenses after the state’s liquor agency fined it for serving booze as it showed the racy superhero movie.

(Rachel Molenda | The Salt Lake Tribune) Norman Chesler, a member of Brewvies' management team and board, praises the recent ruling by a judge against the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. DABC regulators threatened to fine Brewvies up to $25,000 and take away its liquor license in 2016.

Fighting against Deadpool could cost the state of Utah more than half a million dollars.

A motion filed Monday by the lawyers for Brewvies Cinema Pub — which recently won a judge’s ruling overturning a state law after an attempt to fine the Salt Lake City bar and movie theater for showing the R-rated “Deadpool” while serving booze — totals the attorneys’ fees and court costs it’s asking the state to pay back. The figure: $534,431.05.

In a 21-page motion, with 159 pages of supporting documents, Brewvies’ attorneys detail how they arrived at that figure. Most of the sum consists of fees for lead attorney Rocky Anderson and four other attorneys, a law clerk and two paralegals. There also are line items for expert witnesses, travel, raising money for the legal fund, and other expenses.

A spokesman for the Utah attorney general’s office had no comment Monday evening on the motion for Brewvies to recover legal costs and no information on when or whether the state would appeal the initial ruling.

On Aug. 31, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ruled that a section of Utah law, which covers alcohol being served in the vicinity of depictions of nudity or sexuality, hampered free speech and was unconstitutional. Anderson, in his arguments before Nuffer, cited examples — ranging from Michelangelo’s David to a televised sports event where an athlete swats a teammate on the rump — that could be considered “grave” violations of state liquor law.

This image released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Ryan Reyonlds in a scene from the film, "Deadpool." (Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. via AP)

In 2016, officers for the state’s Bureau of Investigation, at the behest of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC), cited Brewvies for serving alcohol during screenings of the raunchy superhero movie “Deadpool.” The movie, starring Ryan Reynolds as Marvel Comics’ “merc with a mouth,” was rated R for violence and sexuality, including animation of the title character suggestively stroking a unicorn’s horn.

Because it was not the first time Brewvies had run afoul of DABC enforcement of state law — the theater had been cited in 2011 for showing “The Hangover, Part II,” which includes human nudity — the theater faced a fine of $25,000.

Brewvies fought the citation in court, arguing that the business’s right to screen the movie was protected by the First Amendment. The case garnered national attention, with Reynolds pledging $5,000 to a crowd-funding campaign for the theater’s legal defense fund.

After Nuffer’s ruling, Brewvies celebrated by throwing free screenings of “Deadpool.”

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