April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Faizon Love withdraws lawsuit over ‘racist’ movie poster

Actor Faizon Love has rescinded a lawsuit against Universal Pictures over an allegedly racist movie poster used to market the 2009 film “Couples Retreat,” the studio confirmed Tuesday.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Love requested dismissal of the lawsuit Friday after settling the dispute privately with Universal, which stood accused of “willful discrimination” against Love when promoting “Couples Retreat” internationally.

The movie poster in question allegedly excluded Love’s name and likeness, while those of his white cast members remained. Actress Kali Hawk, who is also Black, was also allegedly removed from the image. By contrast, the American key art featured Love and Hawk posing in character behind white costars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman and Kristen Bell.

“Mr. Love saw Couples Retreat as his opportunity to present his talents as a prominent Black comedic actor to national and international audiences, and went so far as to safeguard that opportunity,” read court documents obtained by The Times in December.

“However, Mr. Love’s career trajectory was cut short when Defendants excised his name and likeness from the film’s international promotional poster, simply because he is Black.”

When Love raised the issue with Universal internally, the document claims, the studio attempted to appease him with personal apologies from execs and a promise to cast him in higher-profile roles going forward. “These were lies,” the complaint reads.

In a December statement provided to The Times, Love said he filed the suit “not just for the wrong committed against me, but for the discriminatory practices against Blacks and people of color in the entertainment industry.

“I want to ensure that future generations don’t have to endure the racism and whitewashing that I have experienced,” he added.

This week, however, one of Love’s attorney’s told the Hollywood Reporter that the actor and his former employer had “reached an amicable agreement” regarding the situation. Universal Pictures declined to comment further on the retracted complaint when reached Tuesday by The Times.

The latest development in the “Couples Retreat” controversy comes months after actress and former “America’s Got Talent” judge Gabrielle Union reached an “amicable resolution” with Universal’s sister company, NBC, over an employment-discrimination complaint accusing the network of fostering a racist environment on the hit competition program.

“Social justice issues raised this year further galvanized my commitment to enter the fray and speak up for myself and for all Black actors by filing this lawsuit,” Love said in a December statement to The Times.

Times staff writer Anousha Sakoui contributed to this report.