'12 Years a Slave' Italian Distributor Scraps 'Racist' Brad Pitt Ads

The film's Italian distributor has withdrawn advertising materials that focus on Pitt and actor Michael Fassbender

Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years A Slave
Jaap Buitendijk
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in '12 Years a Slave'
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The Italian distributor of 12 Years a Slave recalled and apologized for posters that focused on Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender – as opposed to the movie's star, Chiwetel Ejiofor – last week. "All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn," a statement from BIM Distribuzione said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused." The decision follows scrutiny on social media that claimed the distributor's marketing materials were guilty of racism.

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The movie stars Ejiofor as a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery a couple of decades before the Civil War. Fassbender plays a cruel and tyrannical slaver in the movie, and Pitt's character, while pivotal, appears only briefly. The Italian distributor has made new posters that focus on Ejiofor.

The film's sales agent, Lionsgate's Summit, said that the original Italian posters were unauthorized and unapproved by the movie's producers and licensors. The company released a statement that said, "Summit Entertainment . . . 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 its own statement, BIM acknowledged that its posters were "inconsistent" with the ad materials the movie's producers had approved.

Ejiofor recently told Rolling Stone that making the movie was "life changing." Now the movie is up for seven Golden Globes awards, including a best actor nod for Ejiofor and best supporting actor for Fassbender. The only movie with as many nominations was American Hustle.