“12 Years a Slave” Gone to the Pitts in Italy

Here’s an Italian poster for the movie “12 Years a Slave” repackaged to appeal to the Italian market. Do you think it’s smart marketing or racism?


  1. Edwina

    It’s offensive alright. No doubt about that. But I wouldn’t call it racism. It’s disrespectful and dismissive of the story and to Chiwetel Ejiofor, the lead actor. But their goal is to make money. They’re catering to a market that probably knows and cares very little about America’s history of slavery. But they know and care about Brad Pitt. Bottom line.

    • eldhughes

      The design of the posters were so blatantly dismissive of Chiwetel. There was no concern for balance or respect for his role at all. That seemed racist to me. I couldn’t see them doing that to a white actor who was lesser known. The poster should’ve been designed differently. There are a variety of ways to design that poster to highlight Fassbender, Pitt as well as Ejiofor. They know they messed up. That’s why they pulled those posters with a quickness.

  2. Nick Kira

    I agree with Edwina. It’s unpalatable that they’ve changed the poster for that audience, but I wouldn’t say those behind it are racist, they’re just focused on what would make an Italian audience more inclined to see a/the film. They’re playing on lazy thinking: ‘ah, I know Brad Pitt, I’ll go and see that film’.
    If anything, you could argue that the poster is making huge assumption on the way Italians view things/prejudices: ironically, you could argue that that, in itself, is racist (which kind contradicts my original point).

  3. dslrvideostudiod

    I would argue that Brad Pitt is a marquee box office draw and a commercially marketable name, in addition this film is being marketed to a predominately white european audience. Brad Pitt already has an international fanbase and people that will pay see him in any film. I’m not sure what the non white cinema going audience is in Italy. It will be interesting to see if Italian cinema goers film duped by the poster and want refunds on their tickets.

  4. Charles Ray

    I’ve traveled often in Italy, and while Italians aren’t quite as ethnocentric as say northern Europeans, they do have certain stereotypical views. That said, I think you’re both right – and more’s the shame that the distributors would play on ‘I know Brad Pitt,’ as that would be cheating audiences given Pitt’s very brief appearances in the film.

  5. eldhughes

    I do wonder what Brad Pitt has to say about it. The posters were “unauthorized” according to Summit Entertainment, who were responsible for distribution and promotion of the Italian release. The company quickly yanked the posters. But I don’t buy it. Yes, I would definitely like to know Brad’s view about this.

  6. Michael in Cannes

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. A distributor was handed a movie with one huge name, one good name and a relative unknown (that happens to be the protagonist). They are not the first to plump for the huge name and put it on the poster. I can remember being told to re-write one-sheets for catalogue movies when one of the second roles later went on to become famous. We had to pump up his or her role, or at the very least banner it as “the breakthrough role for XYZ”.

    So it was certainly disrespectful for Ejiofor the actor, less so for Ejiofor the man. It was also cheating the audience.

    But as I said, it’s not the first time producers go for what seems like an easy option.

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