African American films have historically had trouble finding audiences overseas but does that mean a distributor should manipulate the film's message to draw more viewers?

That seems to be the case in Italy with Steve McQueen's slavery drama "12 Years a Slave."

Yesterday, the Tumblr blog "Carefree Black Girl" surfaced an Italian poster for the acclaimed drama, which prominently displays Brad Pitt's face on top of a smaller image of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the central character Solomon Northup in the film.

"I've been following the press for months and I can't wait to watch it but REALLY? I don't remember Brad Pitt being the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster," the blogger wrote. "I sure don't know anything about marketing strategy to appeal audiences but isn't this going to far?"

Italian distributor BIM is releasing the film in the region and worked with marketing company Fanatical About Cinema in making the posters, which have caused an uproar on the Internet.

Other "12 Years a Slave" marketing materials have since surfaced in Italy favoring the film's other white star, Michael Fassbender, as opposed to Ejiofor.

Pitt, who produced the film, has a minor role in "12 Years a Slave" but is one of the biggest stars in the world so the decision to promote he and Fassbender is clearly a financial one.

Fox searchlight and Italian distributor BIM could not be reached for comment on this story.

"12 Years a Slave," nominated for seven Golden Globes, tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a New York-born free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.

Here's the U.S. version of the poster:

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