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Is Spike Lee Using a Poster Design He Didn't Pay for to Promote 'Oldboy'?

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire November 28, 2013 at 11:44AM

Juan Luis Garcia, a photographer and graphic designer whose online portfolio includes photographs of several actors and movie posters for several films, has accused Spike Lee of using posters that he designed to promote the release of Lee's remake of the Korean classic gangster film "Oldboy," which opened in theaters yesterday. The only problem is Garcia claims he never agreed to let the posters be used. And he's aired his grievances in an open letter on his website.
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A comparison of a poster that Garcia designed compared to the poster the firm went with.
Juan Luis Garcia A comparison of a poster that Garcia designed compared to the poster the firm went with.

Juan Luis Garcia, a photographer and graphic designer whose online portfolio includes photographs of several actors and movie posters for several films, has accused Spike Lee of using posters that he designed to promote the release of Lee's remake of the Korean classic gangster film "Oldboy," which opened in theaters yesterday.  The only problem is Garcia claims he never agreed to let the posters be used.  And he's aired his grievances in an open letter on his website.

Says Garcia about the job, 

Back in January I was approached by an ad agency that was hired to design posters for your new film, Oldboy. They wanted me to design some comps to present to you. They told me the budget was small and that they could only pay me peanuts for the comps but if you and the studio liked any of them I would then be compensated fairly through the licensing buyout fee. 

And when he gave them the work?

The agency told me, “Congratulations, Spike loved a couple of the posters. Yours is going to be the key art.”, and I was thrilled. But when it came time to negotiate the licensing buyout fee the agency made an insultingly low offer. But they said that the important thing wasn’t the money it was the exposure and potential for more work. After thinking about it long and hard I had to decline. I tried to negotiate but they refused. I make the same amount of money in a single day as a photo assistant as what they offered and I had worked on these almost exclusively for two months. Plus there was still more work to be done so I had to refuse. 

Garcia gave the agency his work without a contract, but told them that the fee they were asking was too low.  The agency was pissed, according to Garcia, but he thought that they would just use someone else's art.  


Well, they did...for the theatrical poster.  But on Lee's Facebook page this week, Lee released all of Garcia's designs in an effort to hype the film's release.

After Garcia's open letter was passed around on reddit and other platforms, Facebook users are attacking Lee's page with demands that he pay Garcia his due.  

Here's a look at what users were saying underneath one of the posters:

Spike Lee facebook
Indiewire has reached out to representatives for "Oldboy" and Garcia for a comment.  We'll update readers as the story develops.

This article is related to: Spike Lee, Oldboy (2013), Filmmaker Toolkit





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