Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Compose Yourself: Universal's Blackout

Let's play a game. Spot the difference between these two photos.
What's missing?
The answer: Actors Faizon Love and Kali Hawk, black stars who portray a couple in the new Vince Vaughn comedy Couples Retreat. The first picture is a promo pic from the US and the one below that is the same pic altered for distribution in the UK, only in the second one the black actors have been removed from the picture.

In response to outrage over the move, a Universal spokesman said the altered poster aimed "to simplify the poster to actors who are most [recognizable] in international markets."

Simply put, said industry watcher James Ulmer, "The international marketplace is still fairly racist."
[source]

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Apparently, films with black actors aren't thought to perform well overseas. Maybe it's for reasons like this. Why would they remove the co stars from the poster altogether? The film's actual star is a white man. The black couple are only in supporting role. It makes you wonder how movies starring black actors such as Will Smith and Halle Berry are marketed overseas. The stars would be box office candy here but are they the opposite abroad? Universal has apologized but I think that was a poor decision on their parts to alter the photo in the first place. It seems to be a setback for them to remove the actors rather than stand up for them and leave them in the promos. I guess the token blacks in the film aren't as appealing outside of the states.
SMH...

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