Faizon Love
Getty Images

Faizon Love, star of the 2009 hit comedy Couples Retreat, is pursuing a lawsuit against Universal for removing him from the film’s poster. Actor Faizon Love is suing Universal for the removal of his Couples Retreat poster image. Peter Billingsley’s 2009 comedy was hugely successful at the international box office, despite being heavily criticized by critics. Two big reasons for the film’s success were its cast and idyllic Polynesian setting.

“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 stated.

Love played Shane, alongside his on-screen girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk). The two joined a couples retreat at an exclusive tropical resort with the film’s three other couples played by Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, and Kristin Bell etc. Together, the eight friends experience a challenging rather than relaxing time in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Upon its release, critics labeled Couples Retreat for everything from racist to bland and prudish. But it seems that what Universal really cared about was making sure neither Love nor Hawk appeared on the film’s international poster. Those posters reveal just three of the Couples Retreat couples, all of which are white. Upon discovering this, Love was understandably upset, and after speaking to Universal, he was told that the posters would no longer be used.

“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. I want to ensure that future generations don’t have to endure the racism and whitewashing that I have experienced,” Love further expressed in the lawsuit.

After looking at the modified 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 deserves the same coverage on the poster. But for Universal to make unfulfilled promises, in exchange for Love’s indulgence, seems highly problematic. This, of course, is only part of the story, but it could be difficult for Universal to justify why a piece of promotional material for Couples Retreat that they said was missing continues to appear in connection with the film. In fact, it could also be difficult for Universal to explain why the film’s two black stars needed to be removed from the poster in the first place.

Faizon Love
The before and after poster of Couples Retreat. Geety Images


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