Challengers Movie Poster Controversy Explained

By Gillian Blum Posted:
Challengers Zendaya and Mike Faist

The team behind Challengers took to social media on April 26 to respond to an unofficial movie poster that caused an online controversy.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Challengers is a tennis-centered romantic drama starring Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O'Connor.

The movie premiered in the United States on April 26 and has taken the internet by storm, with reviews, memes, and a controversy over an unofficial poster.

[ Zendaya's Challengers Movie Reviews: Critics Share Strong First Reactions ]

Unofficial Challengers Poster Controversy

On April 26, the X (formerly Twitter) account @Filmstofilms_ shared a fake poster for the new Challengers movie, which made many angry for its seeming use of a variation on the n-word, purposeful or not.

A black-and-white poster with silhouettes of people playing tennis, and the word

The now-confirmed-as-unofficial poster separated out the letters of Challengers so the full word would need two lines to fit. The line break was placed between the "e" and the "n" in the title, making the second line look like the n-word with two missing letters.

This led to a massive controversy as many thought the poster was real.

@Filmstofilms_ posted this fake advertisement without specifying that it was unofficial. A community note reading "The Challengers social media team has indicated this is not an official poster" has since been added.

The account responded to the backlash this poster received, though, accusing critics of being "so quick to make assumptions without any effort of critical analysis or getting the facts straight."

This likely refers to the original post not specifying the poster's unofficial status. @Filmstofilms_ argued that it was on the post's audience to research whether it was real rather than on the account to specify that in the original post.

[ Challengers Movie Streaming: When Will It Release Online? ]

Challengers X Responds to Fake Poster

Again, it is unclear who exactly made the poster, as @Filmstofilms_ does not credit itself as the original source. But a response from the official Challengers page confirms for fans that it is not official in any capacity.

The movie's account, @challengersmov, posted "Happy Challengers Day from our only official posters" and included two advertisements for the movie, neither of which is the one that seems to use the slur.

A poster for The Challengers featuring a close-up of Zendaya, and the reflections of two tennis players in her sunglasses.

This post accomplishes two key objectives. First, it debunks any claim that the controversial poster for Challengers is official, clearing the movie's name from the backlash it received.

It also provides an opportunity to further circulate the movie's two official posters, both featuring the actors themselves rather than silhouettes. In doing this, the post helps to promote the movie on its opening day.

By including official posters and jabbing at the fake poster and whoever made it, the account allows for the free publicity of reposts, likes, and comments, which could help boost ticket sales.

A poster for The Challengers featuring Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O'Connor playing tennis, with text

With every repost highlighting the perfect, pointed response comes a reminder to anyone who sees that repost that they can watch the movie in IMAX, for instance, like one of the two posters says in giant letters.

It will be interesting to see if Challengers' strong internet presence is reflected in its box office numbers - as of Saturday afternoon, its preview night and opening day estimates have it on pace to hit or slightly exceed its projected $15 million domestic opening weekend.

Fans can see Challengers in theaters now.

- In This Article: Challengers
Release Date
April 26, 2024
Mike Faist
- About The Author: Gillian Blum
Gillian Blum has been a writer at The Direct since 2022, reporting primarily from New York City. Though she covers news from across the entertainment industry, Gillian has a particular focus on Marvel and DC, including comics, movies, and television shows. She also commonly reports on Percy Jackson, Invincible, and other similar franchises.