Man, I love movie posters. Something about them, well a good deal of them. You look at them and think “Wow that looks like an enjoyable experience!” They have an almost magic about them. One of my favourite parts about going to the movie theatre is walking towards the door and getting to see all of the posters for movies that are currently showing and coming soon. Once in side you can see even larger posters and displays of movies that they are heavily promoting in the theatre. I’m not really a display kind of guy, I much prefer poster. Though if someone were to give me a display of say, Highlander how could i say no? As I get older i find that a lot of the movies I really love have really cool or at least interesting looking poster to go along wit it.
One of the earliest movie posters I ever remember seeing in the theatres was for Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I know that’s kind of a late movie to be remembering since i would have been 6 when that movie came out. But as a kid my family did not really go to the theatre all that much, but I digress. The poster is stunning in its use of light and shadow to make it stand out. A lot of the Disney movies have really amazing looking theatrical posters, I’d say especially the ones from the late 80s and 90’s. One especially that surprised me with its poster is for Mulan. Which is an extremely “epic” looking poster with sharp reds and blacks that hangs next to my bed as I type this.
Now does a good poster mean the movie is going to be good? Of course not! But does a good movie mean a good or interesting poster? Hmm, that’s harder to answer because if you really like a movie you are always going to associate good feelings with the poster because you like the movie so much. I think a good movie can indeed have a bad poster. I love the movie Predator, but I think the poster is god awful! I know what they are getting at with it its supposed to be looking through the predators helmet. But that doesn’t mean they have to make it all pixel-ie and washed-out looking. On the other hand we have a HORRENDOUS movie that I happily own on dvd, The Super Mario Bros movie. The poster for this movie is glorious! Too bad the movie is an abomination.
One of my favourite directors of all time is John Carpenter, famous for movies like Escape from New York and Halloween. Though personally I think his best movie by a long shot, and candidate for best movie ever made is Big Trouble in Little China. I also really love The Thing, remake of the 1950’s movie; Thing from Another World. And wouldn’t you know it most of the posters for his movies are amazing, especially for the two movies I just listed. Which happen to be designed by Drew Struzan, whom we will get into in a minute. First look at the poster for Big Trouble in Little China and tell me that it does not look like a great time, I dare you. Or look at the poser for The Thing and not be a little interested about what is going on there. It’s truly the work of a great carpenter.
A few sentences ago I mentioned Drew Struzan, if you have looked up any great movie poster ever you have seen the work of Mr. Struzan. He is the man who does all those “epic” looking painted posters Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, and hell, even some of the Muppet’s movies. The poster for Back to the Future is one I really love. It’s the first movie poster I ever bought where I actually knew who created it. The look of his posters are just so timeless something about how they are painted and designed just make them look like… forgive my lack of out side the box thinking here, but “Real movie posters!” I think that when most people think of movie poster the first thing that comes to their mind is a poster created my Mr. Struzan.
I know movie posters are designed to catch your attention and are all funnelled through floors and floors of marketing till they think the final copy will catch your eye long enough to go pay the 12$ to go see their movie. But really does that mean they can’t be fun to look at? Just because something is made to get your attention doesn’t mean its all bad big Hollywood trying to push down the little guy. I’m willing to bet that most people that do that for a living love their job and are are more then happy to make really awesome posters. they grew up with movies too, and want to make the best one they can.
For a lot of new movies, posters are seeming to have less and less put into them. Maybe its because of more viral marketing, or more television air time for ads. It kind of seems at least to me, someone who has absolutely no knowledge of the inner workings of Hollywood that the “art” of the poster is slowly being lost. Does this mean I dislike all new movie posters? Of course not! Heck, there is a lot of newer movie posters that I adore even if the movie was not amazing. I love the design of the Super 8 poster, The Dark Knight Rises has a very unique and cool looking poster. A movie that just came out last month, Chronicle has a very visually appealing poser with a lot of negative space.
There are probably more then I can name that have really good posters. But I still get the feeling that something is not quite what it used to be. Maybe its just more bad movies getting made. Perhaps I’m just noticing more now that I’m older. I mean there is probably some real stinkers from the 90s that exist. I’m really looking forward to a lot of movies this year. A lot more then last year in fact so I hope we get some really cool and memorable posters out of it. Because when you are looking for that movie 5-10 years down the line that’s how you are going to remember it. But you know what good ol’ Jack Burton would say? He’d say “What the hell”.