Black actor sues makers of Couples Retreat for scrubbing him from movie poster

The makers of hit Hollywood movie Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristin Davis, are being sued by a black actor over a race controversy which began more than a decade ago, according to court papers obtained by DailyMail.com. 

Faizon Love is suing Universal Studios and its partners over claims he and co-star Kali Hawk, who is also black, were airbrushed out of the international promotional poster for the 2009 film.

Love and Hawk, the only minority couple in the movie, according to the suit, had originally appeared on the poster which promoted the movie across the US.

The US advert showed all eight principal actors – six of whom are white and two black.

But, the suit claims, the poster promoting the film to international audiences scrubs actors Love and Hawk leaving only their white costars.

‘When it came to publicizing the film to international audiences, Universal Studios chose to segregate the motion picture’s White and Black actors,’ the suit, filed in LA Superior Court Wednesday claims.

The paperwork claims Love – probably best known for his role in hit 2003 Christmas movie Elf alongside Will Ferrell – was ‘aghast’ to discover the omission and how Universal Studios and its partners had ‘excised’ him and the movie’s only other black actor.

The makers of hit Hollywood movie Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristin Davis, are being sued by black actor Faizon Love (pictured) over a race controversy which began more than a decade ago, according to court papers obtained by DailyMail.com

The makers of hit Hollywood movie Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristin Davis, are being sued by black actor Faizon Love (pictured) over a race controversy which began more than a decade ago, according to court papers obtained by DailyMail.com

The makers of hit Hollywood movie Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristin Davis, are being sued by black actor Faizon Love (pictured) over a race controversy which began more than a decade ago, according to court papers obtained by DailyMail.com

BEFORE: Love is suing Universal Studios and its partners over claims he and co-star Kali Hawk, who is also black, were airbrushed out of the international promotional poster for the 2009 film. The US advert showed all eight principal actors – six of whom are white and two black

BEFORE: Love is suing Universal Studios and its partners over claims he and co-star Kali Hawk, who is also black, were airbrushed out of the international promotional poster for the 2009 film. The US advert showed all eight principal actors – six of whom are white and two black

BEFORE: Love is suing Universal Studios and its partners over claims he and co-star Kali Hawk, who is also black, were airbrushed out of the international promotional poster for the 2009 film. The US advert showed all eight principal actors – six of whom are white and two black

AFTER: But, the suit claims, the poster promoting the film to international audiences scrubs actors Love and Hawk leaving only their white costars

AFTER: But, the suit claims, the poster promoting the film to international audiences scrubs actors Love and Hawk leaving only their white costars

AFTER: But, the suit claims, the poster promoting the film to international audiences scrubs actors Love and Hawk leaving only their white costars

It states: ‘This act of racism deeply aggrieved Mr. Love. After decades spent honing his craft and compiling more than 50 acting credits, Mr. Love reasonably believed Couples Retreat was his opportunity to present to national and international audiences his talents as a prominent Black comedic actor.’

Couples Retreat topped the box office on its opening weekend in October, 2009 and went on to gross more than $171 million worldwide.

But, according to the suit: ‘Mr. Love and his Black costar, Kali Hawk, were expunged completely from the film’s principal international advertisement, while the other “couples” basked in the publicity and acclaim of an international box office hit.’

The media too noticed the two actors had been wiped from the international poster and a public racism scandal ensued at the time.

The suit quotes a Daily Mail article reporting on the drama in the UK, which quoted Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-UK, as saying: ‘I think this was an ill-conceived move. We celebrate diversity in Britain and we could have coped with seeing the same poster used in America.’

The paperwork claims the backlash quickly mounted and moved stateside, with the LA Times, CBS News and several other US outlets reporting on the controversy.

Love, 52, a stand-up comic as well as an actor, claims he reached out to Universal Studios at the time to complain. 

The media too noticed the two actors had been wiped from the international poster and a public racism scandal ensued at the time.

The media too noticed the two actors had been wiped from the international poster and a public racism scandal ensued at the time.

The media too noticed the two actors had been wiped from the international poster and a public racism scandal ensued at the time.

The lawsuit claims the studio privately apologized to Love and ‘promised’ they would remove the poster and find him new opportunities in the form of ‘lucrative, career-making film roles’

In November, 2009 the studio publicly stated that it ‘regretted causing offense’ and committed to abandoning the poster altogether. 

The lawsuit claims the studio privately apologized to Love and ‘promised’ they would remove the poster and find him new opportunities in the form of ‘lucrative, career-making film roles’.

Love claims that during a phone call with a senior studio executive and actor Vince Vaughn, he was offered a role in a TV show and guaranteed he would be cast in future movie productions.

Vaughn, it’s claimed, even told Love that making a big deal about the poster would not be good for his career.

But, the suit claims, Universal Studios ‘lied’ and none of the acting roles were forthcoming.

What’s worse, the paperwork states, the offending poster was not removed and is still widely used today to promote the film worldwide.

Love claims to have brought legal action 11 years later after learning the ‘humiliating’ and ‘racist’ poster was still in circulation and is even used on streaming services in the US.

Love claims that during a phone call with a senior studio executive and actor Vince Vaughn (front center), he was offered a role in a TV show and guaranteed he would be cast in future movie productions. Vaughn, it's claimed, even told Love that making a big deal about the poster would not be good for his career

Love claims that during a phone call with a senior studio executive and actor Vince Vaughn (front center), he was offered a role in a TV show and guaranteed he would be cast in future movie productions. Vaughn, it's claimed, even told Love that making a big deal about the poster would not be good for his career

Love claims that during a phone call with a senior studio executive and actor Vince Vaughn (front center), he was offered a role in a TV show and guaranteed he would be cast in future movie productions. Vaughn, it’s claimed, even told Love that making a big deal about the poster would not be good for his career

Love is probably best known for his role in hit 2003 Christmas movie Elf alongside Will Ferrell

Love is probably best known for his role in hit 2003 Christmas movie Elf alongside Will Ferrell

Love is probably best known for his role in hit 2003 Christmas movie Elf alongside Will Ferrell

Love and his loan-out company, The Burning House, Inc, are suing Universal City Studios LLC, Eden Resort, Inc and Relativity Media LLC for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Unfair Competition Law, as well as for breach of contract and fraud.

Love, who most recently appeared in the 2020 movie The War with Grandpa alongside Robert De Niro, is seeking damages to be determined at trial.

Couples Retreat is a comedy about four couples who go on vacation together and receive therapy to improve their relationships.

As well as Love and Hawk, the film stars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Malin Ackerman, Kristen Bell and Jean Reno.

In 2009 a spokesman for makers Universal Pictures confirmed the poster had been changed to ‘simplify’ it for the UK and the international market outside America.

The studio said it regretted causing offense and had abandoned plans to use the revised poster in other countries.

Link hienalouca.com

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