"12 Years a Slave" Italian distributor apologizes for "inappropriate" posters

Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years a Slave." Fox Searchlight

The Italian distributor of the film "12 Years a Slave" has apologized for promotional posters attacked as racist for featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, despite their relatively minor roles, and not the film's star, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

BIM Distribuzione said in a statement Monday the "inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn" and expressed "regret any distraction this incident may have caused."

BIM said the new posters feature only Ejiofor, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a free black man who is abducted and sold into slavery.

The distributor said the posters featuring Pitt and Fassbender were aimed at "giving wide representation of what is told in the film itself."

The film by director Steve McQueen opens in February in Italy.

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