The Italian distributor, which released offensively edited versions of promotional posters for 12 Years a Slave, has now pulled the images and apologized. The story created uproar earlier this week when Italian company BIM Distribuzione released promotional materials, focusing on Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, both of whom have only supporting parts in 12 Years. Meanwhile, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has been lauded for his performance as Solomon Northup, a free man who gets kidnapped and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War America, had been relegated to a small image in the corner of each poster.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, BAFTA Britannia Awards
Chiwetel's lead character was relegated to a corner, while the posters highlighted the white actors.

The materials were seen as highly offensive and both BIM and Summit Entertainment were criticised after the posters made waves online. Late in the week, the Italian distributor apologized and explained that all the posters had been pulled for being “inconsistent” with approved materials.

"All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn," BIM said via The Hollywood Reporter. "We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused.”

Michael Fassbender, The Counselor Premiere
Michael Fassbender has only a supporting role as a cruel plantation owner.

Summit released a statement earlier in the week, saying that the offensive posters were not authorized and approved by the producers or licensors of the film. "Summit Entertainment, acting as exclusive sales agent for the licensors, is investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of any unauthorized posters and to have those posters currently in the marketplace recalled," it had said.

Brad Pitt, 12 Years A Slave Premiere
Brad Pitt is on screen for just a few minutes.

Despite the marketing blunder, 12 Years A Slave is almost certain to go down as one of the most memorable films of 2013. The Steve McQueen-directed movie has been nominated for a slew of key honors this awards season, including seven Golden Globes and four SAG honors, while Ejiofor is already being touted for a best actor nod at the Oscars.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, BFI London Film Festival
His12 Years A Slave performance has earned Ejiofor two SAG award nods and one Golden Globe nomination.