Italian ’12 Years a Slave’ Posters Cap Off Bizarre Year of Movie Ad Controversies
A '12 Years a Slave' Poster in Italy
Italian film distributor BIM Distribuzione kicked off Italy's 18th annual Capri Hollywood Film Festival last week with a bit of controversy when they unveiled their poster for Steve McQueen's acclaimed drama, which put the film's white stars front and center.
The artwork reduces lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor to a barely discernible figure in the bottom right corner whilst Brad Pitt's GIANT HEAD floats almost god-like over a plantation field, a wistful movie star look on his face as if he's bemused by the film's graphic depictions of racial violence.
Another poster features an identical layout but replaces Pitt with Michael Fassbender, who plays a brutal, Bible-thumping plantation owner and the film's chief antagonist.
Not surprisingly, this bit of ill-advised marketing hasn't gone unnoticed.
— David Chen (@davechensky) December 23, 2013
Italy's "12 Years a Slave" posters are terrible: http://t.co/thePtKvsRS
— Complex (@ComplexMag) December 23, 2013
BIM Distribuzione apologized for the posters last Thursday in an official statement:
"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," the distributor said. "All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn. We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused."
The distributor also announced that it would incorporate the original U.S. artwork for all marketing materials going forward in anticipation of the film's Italian release date of Feb. 20, 2014.
The apology may be a case of too little, too late, as "12 Years a Slave" star and Golden Globe nominee Lupita Nyong'o was scheduled to attend Friday's premiere of the film but was a no-show at the festival, with no explanation given.
This isn't the only 'PosterGate' incident of 2013. Here are a few other films with distributors who dropped the ball in one way or another.
1. "The Sapphires"
The Australian film stars four Aboriginal actresses as the members of a pioneering 1960s all-girl singing group, though they were reduced to being merely the backup singers of "Bridesmaids" star Chris O'Dowd, who plays the band's manager, in the artwork for Anchor Bay's U.S. DVD release.
O'Dowd himself took to Twitter to express his outrage, calling the artwork "vile," "ridiculous," "misleading," "ill-judged," "insensitive and everything the film wasn't."
A Change.org petition to replace the artwork has to date received almost 24,000 signatures, with Anchor Bay issuing an apology and claiming that "new cover art is being considered for future replenishment orders."