Interesting Posters

Anatomy of a Movie Poster

One of the most striking film posters this year was for The American, but what made it so distinctive?

When LA-based Mojohouse released the first one sheet for Anton Corbijn’s film, about an enigmatic American lying low in Italy, there was a lot of talk about the retro design.

MUBi listed various films of the 1960s that seemed to be an inspiration for the basic look and feel of the poster:

With its two-color printing, its high-contrast photographs, its monochrome rectangle of color and its billing block within a white frame, it could be a lost object from that era.

Rod Steiger’s The Sergeant (1968) appears to be a particularly strong influence, both in the look and billing of the star.

(Click here for a larger version of the above image)

It is also worth comparing how the lead actor is depicted on the poster: note the similarities between the black and white image of Clooney and Steve McQueen on the poster for Bullitt (1968).

Another trend of the late 1960s they appeared to have picked up on is the placing of a small photo, or drawing, next to the title and credits.

With The American, it is a silhouette of someone getting shot, which also could be a play on The Parallax View (1974), another film involving assassins and paranoia.

Finally, a recent Danish film, Everything Will Be Fine (2010), has a very similar poster: notice the eye, which forms part of an orange backdrop to which a character is running from.

But who influenced who?

> MUBi on The American poster influences
> The American
> More movie poster links at IMP Awards

Images Posters Thoughts

The Difference Between Cinema Posters and DVD Covers

When you compare the poster of a theatrical release with the DVD and Blu-ray cover you often see that they have different approaches.

Up in the Air is a recent release – an acclaimed comedy-drama from writer-director Jason Reitman starring George Clooney as an air-mile addicted corporate down-sizer –  that recently came out on DVD and Blu-ray in the US.

You may notice that the poster you saw in your local cinema (on the above left) is notably different from the cover of the disc you will buy or rent (on the above right).

The cinema poster – designed by BLT Associates – is fairly conceptual. It depicts the three main characters of the film (Clooney in the middle, flanked by Anna Kendrick on the left and Vera Farmiga on the right) but they are distant, in silhouette and made to look small by the airport glass and plane outside.

The Helvetica font and colour scheme (cool blues, mixed with whites and blacks) are very reminiscent of an airport and the overall effect is neat as it captures both the bittersweet mood and basic themes of the film.

Reitman recently said that he got the basic idea for the poster by taking a similar photo whilst filming on location at an airport but that some folks at Paramount marketing (the studio that funded the film) were keen on getting a little more of Clooney in the image.

After all, if you have paid a considerable amount for a star, you want to get your money’s worth even if he’s working at a reduced rate on a prestige, Oscar-candidate project like this.

But now the DVD and Blu-ray has come out in the US (that would be on the above right), you can see the difference.

Althought they have inverted the colour scheme of the theatrical poster, the main image features a much more prominent Clooney (laughing) alongside Vera Farmiga, with them both laughing at a bar.

The combined effect emphasises the comedy/feel-good aspect of the film alongside the romance and downplays the more serious themes of recession, job firings and isolation that crop up eslewhere in the story.

Personally, I think it looks horrible and doesn’t do justice to the quality of the film, but – even for a home entertainment release – it also looks pretty ropey, as if an intern was asked to do it on Photoshop on his lunch break.

So, what to make of all this?

Firstly, movie posters come out of a tradition where they are seen at cinemas, bus stops and various outdoor displays which mean they have to be larger in size. In comparison, DVD and Blu-rays are smaller so they have less space to grab your attention, often resulting in a face shot of the actors.

Secondly, one of the time honoured traditions in Hollywood is for everyone to blame the marketing if a film doesn’t do well at the box office. Although Up in the Air was by no means a flop – especially given its relatively lean budget – maybe Paramount felt they could dupe new audiences into thinking it is some kind of romantic comedy.

Thirdly, given that the (literal) shelf life of a film is longer in the shop than it is at cinemas, you would think that more time and effort would be spent on getting it right, rather than just reacting to what happened on the theatrical release.

Finally, it seems that the UK DVD & Blu-ray release of Up in the Air has exactly the same design as the theatrical poster, which could mean that: a) We have better taste over here b) Paramount UK couldn’t be bothered to change it or c) None of the above applies.


> A lengthy blog post from 2007 entitled Why Do Great Movies Get Awful DVD Cover Art?
> Anna Kendrick talks to me about Up in the Air

Amusing Posters

Crank 2 tagline


The above photo of the poster for Crank 2 was taken by Twitter user rionharmon.

I might be wrong, but I actually think the tagline its quite fitting for the ridiculous, over-the-top nature of the Crank movies

> Crank 2 at the IMDb
> A UK viral site for the film with a rather rude URL

Interesting Posters

40 Great Independent Film Posters


Smashing Magazine have compiled a terrific list of 40 Exquisite Independent Film Posters.

I think my favourites are: Zoo, Primer, Taxi to the Darkside, Brick, The Descent and Son of Rambow.

Also great are: Half Nelson, Sideways, Requiem For a Dream (possibly my favourite), Transamerica, Hard Candy and Grizzly Man.

It goes without saying that all of these films are worth buying.

> Original post at Smashing Magazine
> Empire’s list of ‘the greatest Independent films ever made’
> Find out more about indpendent film at WIkipedia
> Indie Film section at the IMDb

Interesting Posters

Posters: Taken & The Bourne Supremacy

I saw the new new Liam Neeson thriller Taken last night – which is actually very entertaining – and on the way out of the cinema I caught a glimpse of the UK poster.

The story is about an ex-CIA agent (Neeson) who goes after his kidnapped daughter in Paris.

It reminded me of something….

An ex-CIA agent who wreaks havoc against shady people in Europe and a poster with a mean and moody character, gun and long dark jacket.

Sound familiar?

To be fair there are some differences between the films, but the poster designs are strikingly similar.

> Taken – Official site
> The Bourne Supremacy at the IMDb

Amusing Posters

Posters spoofing those annoying anti-piracy adverts

These two posters accurately reflect the frustration of anyone who has legally bought a DVD and put it in the player only to be confronted with a patronising advert (that you can’t skip!) which informs you that piracy (the very thing you just haven’t done) is both bad and wrong.

[Posters via Broken TV]

> Read more posts on piracy at Broken TV
> Spoof anti-piracy mashup from The IT Crowd

Interesting Posters

100 Great Movie Posters

TC Candler has compiled a neat list of great movie posters.

Some of my favourites include:

There were some striking movie posters last year including Zodiac, Sunshine and – my favourite – No Country For Old Men:

If you have any favourite posters let me know in the comments below.

[Link via Digg]

> The full list of 100 posters
> Movie Posters database
> Poster Wire – Excellent blog about movie posters
> Movie Poster Forum