Couples Retreat Star Faizon Love Sues Universal Studios for Allegedly Whitewashing Film Poster

The actor is suing the studio for rendering him "invisible to billions of moviegoers around the world"

By Alexia Fernandez 
November 25, 2020 08:34 PM

Faizon Love is suing Universal Studios, claiming the studio whitewashed the international poster for the 2009 film Couples Retreat.

The 52-year-old actor's lawsuit accuses the studio of breach of contract, fraud and discrimination for removing him and his costar, Kali Hawk, from the film's poster when it opened overseas, according to a press release obtained by PEOPLE.

Love and Hawk, 34, were the only two Black lead actors in the film that also starred Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell and Jean Reno.

Universal Studios had no comment.

"This film was a big money-maker for Universal, but instead of honoring my work and my contract, the studio chose to render me invisible to billions of moviegoers around the world," Love said. "They have not only hurt me financially, they have hurt me in a deeper way by dismissing me because of my Blackness — and they have hurt all Black performers by continuing to perpetuate racism in the movie industry."

Faizon Love is accusing Universal Studios of whitewashing their international Couples Retreat poster (right)

Love said he filed the lawsuit "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."

The actor alleges Universal Studios promised him at the time of the film's release that it would stop using the ad that did not feature him or Hawk in their international marketing.

According to the lawsuit documents obtained by Variety, Love found the studio was continuing to use the poster abroad and claims the studio broke its promise to him, as well as additional promises by the studio that included providing him with further film roles and a role opposite Vaughn in a TV show.

In the lawsuit, Love says then chairman of Universal Pictures, Adam Fogelson called the actor in November 2009 "and apologized for the racist poster."

"Mr. Fogelson could not, and did not attempt to justify the racist poster, and told Mr. Love that defendants would fix the problem by not using the offending image going forward," the documents state. "Scott Stuber, who at the time headed Stuber Pictures, a producer of Couples Retreat, and who was under a five-year production deal with Universal Studios, called Mr. Love to apologize for the use of the racist poster, likewise promising that it would be destroyed and never used again to promote the movie."

Couples Retreat follows four couples as they travel to an island resort. While one couple seeks to work on their marriage, the other three couples simply want to have fun. Their plans change when they find that couples therapy sessions are mandatory.

The movie grossed $171 million at the global box office against a $70 million budget.

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