Actor Faizon Love is suing Universal over the erasure of his image from the Couples Retreat poster. The 2009 Peter Billingsley comedy scored big at the international box office, despite largely being panned by critics. Two big reasons for the film’s success was its cast as well as its idyllic Polynesian setting.
Love starred as Shane, alongside onscreen girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk). The two joined in on a couple’s retreat at an exclusive tropical resort with the film’s three other couples played by Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jason Bateman, and Kristin Bell. Together, the eight friends experience a challenging rather than relaxing time in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Upon its release, critics labeled Couples Retreat everything from racist to bland to prudish, but it looks as if what Universal really cared about was ensuring that neither Love nor Hawk were featured in the film’s international poster. Those posters reveal only three of Couples Retreat’s couples – all of whom happen to be white. Upon discovering this, Love was understandably upset, and after speaking with Universal, he was told that the posters would no longer be used.
According to The Wrap, Love now says that not only does he continue to see the posters, but back in 2009, he was also assured by then chairman of Universal Adam Fogelson that Universal “would find new opportunities for him,” as did Couples Retreat producer Scott Stuber. Love was asked not to take the matter to court in exchange for what sounded like a substantial boost to his career. But since complying with Universal’s request, Love has received no “new opportunities” from Universal, and he has missed out on what he claims to be at least $30 million in personal income. As a result, Love is suing Universal.
After looking at the altered 2009 poster in which both Love and Hawk are absent, it’s clear that Universal shouldn’t have done what they did. Love is a prominent star in the film, and as such, he deserves equal coverage on the poster. But for Universal to make promises that weren’t followed through on, in exchange for leniency from Love, seems highly problematic. This, of course, is just one side of the story, but it might be hard for Universal to justify why a piece of promotional material for Couples Retreat that they said was gone, continues to appear in connection with the film. In fact, it might also be hard for Universal to explain why the film’s two black stars needed to be expunged from the poster in the first place.
Though Couples Retreat isn’t quite filled to the brim with hilarity, there are moments of genuine comedy. A big part of this is Love’s portrayal of Shane. The fact that Shane isn’t actually at the couples retreat with his ex-wife, but with his 20-year-old girlfriend, adds a different dimension to everything. The film would have been worse off without either Love or Hawk, and it’s highly unfortunate that Love has to resort to legal means in order to receive the minimal amount of respect from Universal.
Source: The Wrap