A decade-old fight between comedian Faizon Love and Universal Studios over a promotional movie poster for "Couples Retreat" has culminated into a lawsuit.
Faizon, who was one of the main stars in the 2009 film, is accusing the studio of racial discrimination for scrubbing him from the overseas version of the film's poster while leaving his white costars in it.
The actor, who is Black, states in the lawsuit that his image and his name were featured in the United States version of the promotional poster. However, neither his likeness nor his name were included in the international ad. Faizon's love interest in the film, Kali Hawk, was also included in the U.S. version, but not the overseas version. She, too, is Black.
The controversy made headlines in 2009. At the time, a Universal spokesman said the poster was changed to "simplify" it internationally.
Faizon is suing for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Unfair Competition Law, as well as for breach of contract and fraud. He is also seeking unspecified damages.
"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," the lawsuit states, according to The Daily Mail. "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."
Faizon claims he brought the removal to the attention of Universal way back in 2009, as the film was on its way to raking in $171 million worldwide. The studio, Faizon claims, failed on its promise to take the overseas poster out of circulation. At the time, Faizon also said Universal promised him "lucrative, career-making film roles," but says those roles were never offered.
Faizon, known most famously for his work in "Elf" opposite Will Ferrell, said he ultimately decided to file the lawsuit after realizing the "humiliating" and "racist" poster is still being used to promote the film 11 years later.