The since-pulled posters for ‘12 Years a Slave’ focused on the drama’s Caucasian stars, Brad Pitt (pictured) and Michael Fassbender.
One of the stars of the critically acclaimed “12 Years a Slave” has dropped out of a film premiere in Italy after an ill-conceived marketing strategy came across as a throwback to a less enlightened era.
Actress Lupita Nyongo’o, who was scheduled to introduce the drama at the Capri Hollywood Film Festival, did not give a reason for her abrupt cancellation, Variety first reported.
But the move comes after the film’s Italian distributor was forced to apologize for unapproved movie posters that focused on white cast-members Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt – while the film’s lead, Chiwetel Ejiofor is confined to a corner.
Kenyan-raised actress Lupita Nyong’o dropped out of an Italian premiere for the film Friday.
Fassbender, who plays a sadistic plantation owner, has a supporting role, while Pitt is in the film for just a few minutes.
“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, according to the National Post.
Nyong’o (pictured with Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a favorite for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her turn as a doomed slave.
“All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn. We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.”
Lionsgate’s Summit, the studio that has international rights to the film, said that director Steve McQueen and producers did not approve the posters and they should never have been released.
Actors Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor arrive at the ‘12 Years A Slave’ premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
The white-washed images, photos of which first started circulating online Monday, are especially head-scratching considering the powerful film tells the true story of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free New Yorker kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War America.
The Academy Award contender has been compared to “Schindler’s List’s” depiction of the Holocaust for its unflinching depiction of a ugly period in history.
‘All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn,’ BIM Distribuzione, the film’s Italian distributor, said in a statement. ‘We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.’
Nyongo’o told the Daily News in November that playing a real life slave was not a job, but a calling.
“I knew what I was getting myself into when I took on the role, I knew it was going to be tough, but it was an honor, a privilege, I got to do it for fake when people did that for real,” she said.
“Slavery is not something that people talk about at the bar, there’s a shame about it, there is a part of history that’s swept under the carpet — and that’s no way to deal with it.”