Oldboy Poster Designer Gets Ripped Off, Asks Spike Lee for Help


One of the great things about social media is its ability to act as an equalizer, giving non-famous people a platform to voice their concerns and speak out against powerful celebrities and corporations. Nobody wants bad publicity, so taking to Facebook, Twitter or a blog to expose a wrongdoing can attract some serious attention. Of course, it can also be abused and exploited when used irresponsibly. This week, with Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake about to hit theatres, an artist who worked on posters for the movie decided to use the power of social media to get some leverage against an ad agency that took advantage of him. He posted an open letter to Spike Lee detailing the situation, hoping for a response. Well, Spike Lee has indeed replied, but unfortunately it’s probably not the response he was looking for.

According to his open letter to Spike Lee, Juan Luis Garcia was given an opportunity by an ad agency to create some concepts for potential posters for Oldboy. He was paid very little, but was told that if Spike Lee liked what he saw, he would get fair compensation through the licensing buyout fee. He was eventually told that Spike Lee did like the posters, but the money they offered was insultingly low. He decided not to allow them to use the poster, but the ad agency went ahead and used it anyway without paying him even the initial fee he was promised.

Garcia was eventually forced into action when he later noticed his original comps posted on the Facebook page for Spike Lee’s production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks. Not only were the images being used without permission, they also claimed to have ownership and copyright. Now, one day after posting his open letter and attempting to bring the situation to Spike Lee’s attention, Lee finally responded via Twitter:

And just like that, any hope of fair compensation has gone out the window. Still, looking at it from Spike Lee’s point of view, what could he really have done? He can’t be sure that the artist is telling the truth. It is a little unfair for Garcia to expect him to take his side just based on a plea for help and a little social media pressure. And yet… you have to feel for Garcia because we all know that artists get screwed like this all the time. What do you think? Is Spike Lee a jerk for brushing this guy off or did he “do the right thing”?

Around the Web:

  • Claws Longtail

    He should have tweeted Steve-O.

  • Kasper F. Nielsen

    I’m more concerned with Spike Lee’s bizarre way of writing.

  • devolutionary

    That’s the Hollywood machine for ya! Squeeze out resources any way you can and reap the benefits as cheap as possible. Spike was probably misinformed by his studios that they had full rights anyways. Keepin’ the man down!

  • Guest

    1st poster is actually better.

  • Emily Bel

    Wow Spike Lee shows his true colors. What an asshole. Really dissapointing.

  • Mike Anderson

    Spike’s too quick to brush the guy off. “I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.”?!? Now that’s a cheap trick. Spike will pay a price for his dismissiveness. I guess he still doesn’t know how the internet works.

  • Film Ape

    Ain’t that the truth, Ruth.

  • Michael Howell

    Hollywood has had a history of this sort of dirty deeding and slimy slithering that is almost legendary. Hell takes notes.

  • Justin

    Spike Lee is an irrelevant has been anyhow. who the fuck told him it was a good idea to remake a Koren thriller about a guy who’s tricked into an incestuous relationship with his estranged daughter by sticking a bunch of semi-well known actors and Josh Brolin into it?

  • ProCynic

    Yo. Seriously!

  • Spoiler

    Justin , please ad a “spoiler alert” in your comment.

  • patrik

    haha yes, was about the say the same thing.

  • Flipper Purify

    Spike has been hiring Art Sims/ 11:24 Design for all his one-sheets for years. Art Sims has been ripping off young, naive designers for years. I should know because I was one of them, and I’ve met 2 others over the years who told me the same thing.

    Art, you’re too old to still be doing this kind of crap and treating people the way you do. I was hoping you’d mature. SMH…

  • amazed

    come on, film junk, are you seriously asking this question? If someone brings your attention to a serious breach of conduct in your team in a well articulated, respectful and polite manner, then the least you can do is look into it! Sad.

  • Sean

    But it wasn’t his “team” that had the breach of conduct, it was the ad agency they were dealing with. I agree, the nice thing to do would be to look into it, but is the director really supposed to keep track of every little thing going on in a movie production? Many directors aren’t involved in the marketing at all.

  • Justin

    How the hell can there be spoilers about a movie that was made over 10 years ago? THERE CAN’T. that’s how.

  • Lucas_3D

    I read a simplified ‘for’ and ‘against’ regarding this situation:
    “If I hire you to mow my neighbours lawn, and refuse to pay you, you don’t have beef with my neighbour, you have beef with me”.
    “If you buy a car, and that car turns out to be stolen, you don’t still get to keep it”.
    That guy is gonna get paid quite well, if he can prove his intellectual property is being used without his permission. Always work with a contract.

  • Bas

    Yeah man, why should you care about people who havent seen the movie yet and might enjoy it. Fuck em, right?

  • Jonny Ashley

    I was siding with the poster artist at first, but after seeing that Oldboy was a complete and utter bomb, I don’t see how it’s Spike Lee’s responsibility. If this had turned out to be a huge Spielbergian success, it would have been the nice guy thing for him to do as a person who was profiting off of a successful film. I think Spike knew ahead of time when he made that Twitter response that Oldboy was going to be a huge shit sandwich for everyone involved. Sad that people get ripped off, however I don’t see anything else Spike could have said for the guy.

  • John Abides

    Wait, obligation to be a decent person depends on success? Sure, the artist is after a payday of sorts, but it’s something he should have been paid before the movie bombed, not after. Not like he is getting a percentage of profits or anything.

    Hard to know who is in the right here, but CEO’s of huge companies get tagged when a division of their company messes up. In the same vein, there is absolutely no way they have direct control over all aspects of their company. But they are in the head honcho position, so they have to accept the criticism and try to fix it. The way we think of movies, the director is the CEO and, whether they have direct control or not, we expect them to have at least some power.

    Besides, who else is he gonna message? I’m assuming he messaged the production company and hasn’t gotten a response.

  • John Abides

    Do a bunch of down-votes hide a post with discus? If so, downvote it! Why spoil a movie because you hate the director of the remake?? Makes no sense.

  • Colin

    Spike Lee thinks the poster designer should pay him


    In other news, Spike Lee is a douche

  • Jonny Ashley

    Garcia’s not in the wrong for seeking what he deserves, but I’m also saying it’s not Spike Lee’s responsibility to begin with. I disagree that the director is necessarily the CEO on every movie, Lee certainly was not in regards to the marketing of the movie. If Oldboy was a success, Spike Lee could have been in a generous position to help this guy out, but it wasn’t and so it’s especially not surprising that he didn’t. To imply that any of this is within Spike Lee’s reach to make right is incorrect.