Posters for 12 Years A Slave featuring large portraits of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender with a small figure of the film’s star Chiwetel Ejiofor are unauthorized, says the film’s studio Lionsgate; their Summit label is handling the film overseas. A Lionsgate spokesperson told Variety:
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. 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.
Brad Pitt, who produced the film, plays a Canadian abolitionist who appears in last 20 minutes and speaks out against slavery. Fassbender is the sadistic slave owner. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s portrayal of freeborn violinist Solomon Northrop, whose autobiography is the basis of the film, has received rave reviews. In the U.S. and elsewhere, Ejiofor is the central figure in the film’s marketing materials.
The Italian posters have pretty much rightfully upset a large portion of the interwebs, and props to Carefree Black Girl for really getting the word out.
I was at the movies the other day ( I live in Italy) and I saw the poster for 12 Years A Slave. I’ve been following the press for months and I can’t wait to watch it but REALLY? I don’t remember Brad Pitt being the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster…
I sure don’t know anything about marketing strategy to appeal audiences but isn’t this going to far?
Pitt previously said of his taking the role of the kind Canadian who helps Northrup gain his freedom:
It helped get the thing done. I sit in a very fortunate position where I can help push things over the edge with difficult stories, and this was one of those instances. So it’s merely for that, not so much that I was certainly needed performance-wise.
Italian marketing company Fanatical About Cinema and Italian distributor BIM clearly have taken Pitt’s part too far. Fassbender, who has received a Golden Globe nomination for his role, is given the same treatment in posters with a portrait image. The film’s Italian trailer make it clear that the story is about Ejiofor’s character, so the decision to deceive moviegoers through the posters is troubling one.
Fanatical About Cinema has already removed the posters from their Flickr account, but there are images online.