12 Years A Slave was one of this year's most critically acclaimed films, with its star Chiwetel Ejiofor delivering a stirring performance as main character Solomon Northup. Despite this, it appears that theaters in Italy have promotional posters of the film that display prominent white characters instead.
The film, directed by Steve McQueen, also stars leading Hollywood men Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender. Pitt, a producer of the film, plays a kind-hearted Canadian while Fassbender plays a nefarious slave owner. Naturally, the slight of Ejiofor in the promotion of the film caught the attention of the media and there has been a response from the film's main distributor.
“The '12 Years a Slave' theatrical posters featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender that were recently released in Italy were unauthorized and were not approved by any of the producers or licensors of the film,” said a spokesperson from Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment to Variety. “Summit Entertainment, acting as exclusive sales agent for the licensors, is investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of any unauthorized posters and to have those posters currently in the marketplace recalled.”
Italian distributor BIM is handling the country's run of the film, and hired marketing company Fanatical About Cinema to create the posters. A Black Tumblr blogger, Carefree Black Girl, first noticed the photos yesterday (December 23) while in the theaters, and Buzzfeed later discovered Fanatical About Cinema's Flickr account featuring the posters. The Flickr account has since been deleted.
Given Italy's recent history regarding racism and trying to market an emotionally charged film with a Black main, the posters perhaps shouldn't be much of surprise.
Hit the following pages to see photos of the 12 Years A Slave promotional posters in Italy, along with the proper original.
Update: The Shadow and Act film blog reports that Lionsgate will be pulling the ads from the Italian marketplace as they were not authorized images.
Photos: Tumblr, Flickr