10 Memorable Movie Poster Controversies


It was embarrassing enough for two-time Oscar nominee Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields, The Mission) to end up directing Captivity, a particularly mindless entry in the so-called “torture porn” trend of the late 2000s. But his entry in the nonstop-violence derby didn’t even find an audience, grossing a comically low $2.6 million (on a $17 million budget). Maybe it just needed a strong and aggressive ad campaign! Oh, maybe not. Distributor After Dark Films found itself in a world of trouble with its outdoor billboard campaign for the Elisha Cuthbert vehicle, a rather graphic four-panel display of the horrors inflicted on her character, with the captions “Abduction. Confinement. Torture. Termination.” When the ads went up on 30 LA billboards and 1400 New York taxi tops in spring of 2007, the public outcry was deafening. After Dark immediately went into spin mode, claiming that — whoops! — the wrong files had been sent to the printer, and they went straight to the billboard company without approval from the distributor. Uh huh. They also weren’t approved by the MPAA, and though the ads were quickly pulled, the ratings organization penalized the distributor for the infraction by imposing a month-long suspension of the ratings process for Captivity — causing it to miss the original May 18 release date blasted across those controversial ads.