- (Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight)
A "12 Years A Slave" poster backlash has taken place after Italian promotional efforts for the film marginalized the movie's British star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Ejiofor, who was born to Nigerian parents, is relegated to a small picture on the film's poster while white supporting actors Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender were given prominence.
The "12 Years A Slave" poster garnered backlash after it was pointed out by Tumblr user awayoutoftheblue on her blog Carefree Black Girl. She noticed that Brad Pitt took up nearly the entire poster despite having only a small role in the film- Ejiofor was shown smaller underneath, running.
"I don't remember Brad Pitt being in the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster," she wrote. "I sure don't know anything about marketing strategy to appeal audiences but isn't this going too far?"
Other designs marketed in Italy featured Fassbender in a similar state, while Ejiofor was again reduced from the original U.S. versions. The posters were created by marketing firm Fanatical About Cinema for Italian distributor BIM, according The Hollywood Reporter.
Lionsgate denied that they were responsible for the changed posters, and said that they are working to correct the problem.
"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," a Summit Entertainment representative stated. "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."
In the film, Ejiofor plays Solomon Northrup, an educated free black man in New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana in 1841. The film is now starting its foreign run overseas after receiving universal acclaim from critics.