Movie Posters for Dummies

Given that film posters account for an amazing 62% of all city centre billboard and advertising space (that’s total bullshit, but it sounds about accurate), it’s surprising how often they look like a jumbled mess of words, stars, and quotation marks. Moreover, recently it seems increasingly the case that the title, cast, crew, tagline, colours and shapes are just not cutting it when it comes to imparting on your audience a vague indication of what the film is about. No! We couldn’t possibly assume the general public has prior knowledge of the film, or have seen the trailer, or the gumption to enter the title into Google and see what comes up. We need one key ingredient to just nudge them gently out of desperate confusion and into full-on penny droppage. And that’s just cack-handedly plopping in a prop or handy block of text to enlighten the masses.

Perhaps the most common perpetrator was the Scary Movie franchise, going from a simple “I See Dead People” stitched into a blanket, to Scary Movie 3 featuring almost as much writing in the central poster image as in the credits beneath. But there have been a batch of fresh new clunkers that I’ve found tricky to ignore…

Okay, so this one’s kinda subtle, but it still seems like a slapdash afterthought – sticking a script in Colin Farrell’s jacket. In case the title didn’t make it clear, WE ARE IN HOLLYWOOD. I understand action film posters use shorthand by giving everyone guns to show, yes, it’s an action film (something semi-seen here), but who is going to think “Oh! Colin Farrell’s got a script, ergo he must be playing a screenwriter. NOW I have to see this film!”. And if you haven’t seen the film and don’t understand that Farrell is writing a screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths”, it’s just going to look like he accidentally brought his script to the photoshoot day.

Now we’re getting a bit silly. For starters, it’s not a particularly ambiguous title, and what’s more, there’s a caravan right next to it. So the rather naff button – featuring another picture of a caravan along with the word “caravan” – just seems, somewhat aptly, like overkill. Unneccessary, design dudes!

Right, knock that shit off. Granted, it’s not the most obvious title (it’s not The Fighter, that’s for damn sure), but if a tagline that prosaic needs to be backed up with a “World’s Best Teacher” mug, you clearly don’t think very highly of your potential audience. Having said that, this is the potential audience for a Kevin James movie, so maybe it does need to be spelled out so blatantly. And isn’t the plot already “borrowed” from Warrior?

Let’s not stop there – clearly a bunch of other releases could have done with a similar marketing strategy, so here are some further examples I cobbled together just as lazily as the genuine articles. First up…

“Hmm…is that not too subtle?”

“Okay, we’re getting there. Could we make it just a little less obtuse?”

“Perfect!”

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2 responses to “Movie Posters for Dummies

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