Italian Company Apologizes for Controversial ‘12 Years a Slave’ Poster

Italian Company Apologizes Controversial ‘12 Years

'Inappropriate' materials, which favored Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender over black star, to be withdrawn

The Italian distributor of “12 Years a Slave” has apologized for posters that placed the focus on Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender at the expense of star Chiwetel Ejiofor.

“We apologize for creating and releasing unauthorized posters for ’12 Years a Slave’ in Italy featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a manner inconsistent with approved advertising materials,” BIM Distribuzione said in a statement issued Thursday. “All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn. We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.”

The apology came three days after first news of the posters emerged. Pitt, who produced the film, has a minor role in “12 Years a Slave” and Fassbender is in a supporting role, and both are white, while black actor Ejiofor appears in virtually every scene in the film.

Lionsgate’s Summit label, which was acting as the sales agent for the licensors, had issued a statement Monday that the Italian theatrical posters featuring Pitt and Fassbender were unauthorized and were not approved by any of the producers or licensors of the film. Summit said it was investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of the unauthorized posters and to recall posters already in the marketplace.

BIM worked with marketing company Fanatical About Cinema in making the posters, which have caused an uproar on the Internet. The Tumblr blog “Carefree Black Girl” first disclosed an Italian poster for the acclaimed Steve McQueen-directed drama, which prominently displays Pitt’s face on top of a smaller image of Ejiofor.

“12 Years a Slave” has been nominated for seven Golden Globes, four SAG awards and five Independent Spirit awards. It tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a New York-born free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.

Fox Searchlight is distributing the film in the U.S. and Canada.

BIM has altered its web page so that Ejiofor is the only actor seen in its “12 Years a Slave”image.  

 

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 18

Leave a Reply

18 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

  1. r u kidding me they r the BIGGER NAMES!! there is no issue here. quit your damn whining girls

  2. JimInNashville says:

    Typical me-me-me whining from the black community. If you are promoting a film within a predominantly white European populace, you emphasize the huge box office white stars. Ejiofor is a terrific actor who is a personal favorite of mine since his star-turn in Dirty Pretty Things, but tell me — when Halle Berry won her Academy Award and never mentioned her incredible supporting actor Billy Bob Thornton, where was the white outrage? Blacks can be racist and exclusionary to their hearts’ content, and nobody is allowed to notice.

  3. Mike says:

    These are great posters. The problem is were is the third poster showing the black guy in big with his name at the top. Then it would be well presented.

  4. Isa says:

    italy is among the most racist countries in the EU. It may be a maketing strategy but still laced with racism. I have never seen anything of the likes — it is embarrassing!

    • stefan flosbach says:

      This is absolute b–s–t. If you want to sell tickets, you use the big name stars, not the little-known main actors. Pitt is a household name worldwide, Fassbender made a splash in Prometheus or X-Men: First Class. Ejiofor may have acted in successful movies such as 2012 or Salt, but he does not carry a lot of name recognition (who can truely spell or pronounce his name correctly?). If you want to put bums on seats in countries without a larger black population, you need the big names and Ejiofor ain’t big enough (yet).

  5. Dee Thompson says:

    Italy, Italy, Italy you know better. Just look at the title of the film. Brad Pitt…”12 Years a Slave”? Really? Come on people, get with it. Dollars over sense? Again. The nature of the business. If we can sneak one in and make money, they will. Just look at the number one hit film where me, my kids and the rest of the cast of Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Family Reunion including Tyler Perry himself was on the original poster as a family unit. However, when it played in my lovely lilly white home town of the bible belt, Charlotte, North Carolina at the Arboretum Theatre in a predominantly WHITE neighborhood the hit film was advertised at the theatre with an large oak tree and the title underneath. There was no negro faces present on the poster or any mention about it even being a film about a dysfunctional BLACK family. I was hurt personally and felt insulted by this because number one, I’m black, number two, it was my hometown where this was displayed and number three, it was me and my kids first time ever being on a film poster advertised for working in a hit film as actors. I’m sure the sneaky marketing sales tactic helped propel the film’s box office receipts to number one by doing this and extremely motivated the filmmaker Mr. Tyler Perry (who I love as a filmmaker) to keep quiet. Even in America this happens. So, don’t feel bad Italy. Dollars again, over sense is what I call it. Great film though. Everyone should go see it, regardless of how it is marketed. An important story in African-American history and the world. Look out Oscars 2014!—–MR. DEE THOMPSON, ACTOR AND AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING BOOK “HOW I WENT TO THE OSCARS WITHOUT A TICKET”—-TRUE STORY. AMAZON.COM

  6. Dee Thompson says:

    Italy, Italy, Italy you know better. Just look at the title of the film. Brad Pitt…”12 Years a Slave”? Really? Come on people, get with it. Dollars over sense? Again. The nature of the business. If they can sneak one in and make money, they will. Just take a look at the number one hit film a few years back where me, my kids and the rest of the black cast of Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion including Tyler Perry himself was on the original poster as a family unit. However, when the film played in my lovely lilly-white home town in the bible-belt of Charlotte, North Carolina at the Arboretum Theatre in a predominantly WHITE neighborhood, the hit film was advertised at the theatre with an large oak tree and the tile underneath. There was no negro faces present on the poster or any mention about it even being a film about a dysfunctional BLACK family. I was hurt personally and felt insulted by this because number one, I’m black, number two, it was my hometown where this was displayed and number three, it was me and my kids first time ever being on a film poster advertised for working in a hit film as actors. I’m sure the sneaky marketing sales tactic helped propel the film’s box office receipts to number one by doing this and extremely motivated the filmmaker Mr. Tyler Perry (who I love as a filmmaker) to keep quiet. Even in America this happens. So, don’t feel bad Italy. Dollars again, over sense is what I call it. Great film though. Everyone should go see it, regardless of how it is marketed. An important story in African-American history and the world. Look out Oscars 2014.!!! “12 Years a Slave” film will be a force to reackon with.—-MR. DEE THOMPSON, ACTOR AND AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING BOOK “HOW I WENT TO THE OSCARS WITHOUT A TICKET”—-TRUE STORY. http://WWW.AMAZON.COM/DEETHOMPSONAUTHOR

    • Roberto says:

      Dee, Dee, Dee, you know better. This was entirely about name recognition for promotion and marketing. You remember marketing, don’t you? …or was your book plug at the end of your comment somehow relevant to the article and topic?

  7. Alberto says:

    Giacomo is right. Also, I can imagine that the Italian rights have been sold at a high price because Pitt was in the movie. If there has been a mistake, probably is in the lack of negotiation about credits. Talking about racism is simply ridicolous, especially for those who know how good and open minded is the local distributor, BIM.

  8. Giacomo says:

    Dears,
    This is not a racial issue, but purely a marketing one. As Brad Pitt is a famous actor, he draws more attention. If Eddie Murphy, Will Smith or Denzel Washington were in the movie, they would have been given the big space as well. This move of withdrawing Pitt and the poster is a huge mistake, as it was a great way to make people watch the film and expose a larger audience to a beautiful story and learn a about the actual lead actor.

    • rschultze says:

      Exactly my words. If anyone should apologize it should be magazines like Variety and the rest of the industry for keeping a highly exaggerated attitude towards racism where there is none. They ought to come out and state that they acknowledge it as a marketing initiative and nothing else. It’s nothing but a nauseating pandering and kitman to the ignorant audience of misanthropes.

      • ocubeocube says:

        As someone who works in branding, I understand it was a marketing issue, however, in light of the films story/issue they were ill advised.

  9. Alberto says:

    Mike’s comment is offensive. Period.

  10. mike says:

    Italy…LOL…

  11. Michael Epps says:

    The unauthorized posters are now worth a fortune.

  12. Smooth says:

    Works for me.

  13. big daddy D says:

    Better late than never…I guess. Let the ravings begin.

More Film News from Variety

Loading