Distribution bosses behind the Italian release of 12 Years A Slave have apologised for issuing racially-biased posters promoting Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt's roles in the slave drama in place of leading man Chiwetel Ejiofor. The unofficial movie promos caused controversy in Italy as the supporting white actors became the new faces of the film, but executives at BiM Distruzione have since removed the advertisements and issued a public apology for appearing to sideline black British star Ejiofor. In a statement, the distributors write, "We are very proud of the film and regret any distraction this incident may have caused. "We apologise for creating and releasing unauthorised posters for 12 Years A Slave in Italy featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender in a manner inconsistent with approved advertising materials. "All inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn." The news emerges days after officials at the film's production firm Lionsgate's Summit denounced the poster scandal and declared they were launching an investigation into the issue, while taking "immediate action" to have the offensive posters recalled. Steve McQueen's movie, about a free black man from New York who is sold into slavery, has already garnered a slew of top awards nominations for the film and its actors, and it is hotly tipped to land a nod for Best Picture Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards.