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Faizon Love sues Universal over claims 'Couples Retreat' marketing diminished Black stars

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3 min read
Faizon Love is suing the makers of 2009 romcom 'Couples Retreat'. (Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images/Universal)
Faizon Love is suing the makers of 2009 romcom 'Couples Retreat'. (Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images/Universal)

Comedy star Faizon Love has launched legal action against the makers of 2009 romcom Couples Retreat over claims he and another Black star were removed from the movie’s international poster.

The film follows four couples at the titular vacation spot, including the characters played by Love and Kali Hawk.

Love is best known for his role as the manager of Gimbels department store in the classic Christmas comedy Elf.

Read more: Chastain defends Penelope Cruz casting in The 355

In court papers reported by the Daily Mail, Love and his legal team allege that there was a decision to “segregate the White and Black actors” when it came to promoting Couple’s Retreat outside of the USA.

He and Hawk featured on the US poster for the film, but did not show up on the marketing image used internationally.

Faizon Love and Kali Hawk do feature on the US poster for 'Couples Retreat'. (Credit: Universal)
Faizon Love and Kali Hawk do feature on the US poster for 'Couples Retreat'. (Credit: Universal)

The suit states: “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.”

Allegations of racism against the marketing were made at the time, with Universal issuing an apology in November 2009 and pledging to remove the poster from circulation.

A spokesman claimed the marketing was changed “to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognisable in international markets”.

Read more: John Boyega says studios should support stars amid abuse

Love’s suit claims that he was individually promised “lucrative, career-making film roles” when they apologised to him at the time, but he alleges those jobs have not surfaced.

The suit states Love chose to take legal action after seeing that the poster is still frequently used to promote the movie on streaming services.

Watch: Trailer for Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat was a box office success for Universal, bringing in $172m (£129m) worldwide despite very negative critical reviews to the tune of a mere 10% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Its cast included Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis and Malin Åkerman.

Love has continued to take on comedy roles and recently appeared as part of the ensemble of Robert De Niro-led comedy The War with Grandpa.

Read more: 60% of British films feature no Black actors

His poster complaints are reminiscent of a similar issue raised by British star Noel Clarke, who pointed out his absence from the marketing for 2019 comedy Fisherman’s Friends.

“Not one of these other actors spoke up for me and the fact I was not on here, being as well known as most of them,” Clarke wrote on Twitter.

Love is seeking damages, which would be determined at a trial.

Watch: Constance Wu tired of “lazy excuses for racism”