VIDEO: All movie posters are the same now

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Cecil takes a look at just how lazy movie posters have become.

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  • Egil Hellá

    Nice video but are you going to do mor videos about movie posters because I would love to see em

  • danbreunig

    Mass-produced and consequently low-integrity product produced in short-time: a trigger of many an empire’s collapse.

    Great analysis, Cecil, especially of a subject nearly all of us take for granted. It sounds like if they need an open area for newcoming filmmakers to find work, coming up with actual creative one-piece movie art would make a decent start.

    And hey, for me, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron WERE in fact the major players. That’s what made the movie rather tolerable for me: I would care less about Bayformers if the generic giant fighting robots weren’t at least characters I remember from wee youth.

    Sometimes I just get so into how dated some artwork is. The Exorcist poster actually makes me crave more for the artwork for Steppenwolf. Years ago I wanted to do a spoof of that movie art with the dark brooding faces of Max Von Sydow and Dominique Sanda in a gritty reboot parody. I’m glad I didn’t because even parodies now are getting overdone (much like 2000s era movie poster art)–and I also don’t have Photoshop of any kind if I wanted to. Not that there aren’t winners, though–a stroll through DeviantArt can prove that.

  • StevePotter

    I can get how it could be hard to make a good movie poster, but I don’t see how hard it could be to CONCEIVE of one. They really should just hire the guys who do the fanart posters. Give them some info, ask them to make something awesome. Seeing as how they’re amateurs, you wouldn’t have to pay ’em all that much. Hell, do a contest! How many people would work their ass off, for no pay, just for the chance to see THEIR work in multi-plexes across the country?

  • Thomas Stockel

    Well done and well said, Cecil. By the way, that Rocketeer poster? It’s framed on my parents’ family room wall. Because that’s how my Dad rolls.

  • Magdalen

    This is also a testament to how horribly samey movies have gotten. There only so many ways to make a poster for [Muscled badass shoots people to save hot chick].

  • Alexa

    Blue and orange, huh that reminds me I need to buy some ALL detergent.
    But seriously this is a very sad epidemic when it comes to the media of films. Really I think at this point they should just use foreign movie posters such as the ones in this Cracked article:

    They may be confusing and don’t really represent the films all that well, but dammit they’re eye catching and are anything but boring. Especially number 9. Really anything from Japan is going to be interesting I feel.

  • They can have all the blue and orange they want, just stop with the pictures of one actor’s face. When “The Internship” was being advertised all they had were massive pictures of Vaughn and Wilson’s faces. I hate both of them as actors.

  • $36060516

    You contrasted “the old days” represented by “The Rocketeer” to bad movie posters of today including “Pretty Woman,” which came out a year before “The Rocketeer!”

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, but the Pretty Woman poster has been copied over and over again for fifteen years, while The Rocketeer’s utterly awesome art deco style stands out to this day.

  • Cameron Vale

    Movie posters suck now because of marketing. I’m willing to bet that every single similarity you mentioned was previously in the poster of some successful movie, and was subsequently retconned by marketers as a primary cause of this success. Also, I heard that the old hand-painted style of video game covers died out because they had a reputation of being deceptive, and that’s why the early first-party NES games had the cover art with the giant pixels.

  • Hal_10000

    One thing I noticed was that, with the classic movie posters, you could remove the title of the movie and still recognize them. If you took the titles off a modern movie poster, you’d have no idea. “Uh, Transformers 7? Spiderman 6? Failure to Launch 2?”

  • Doc Skippy

    The best movie poster of all time, hands down, is for Def-Con 4. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to gaze at it longingly right this second.

  • Hitchmeister

    The thing is, they make boring samey posters because they work. They put butts in the seats of the boring samey movies they are cookie-cuttered to promote. When you have today’s Hollywood budgets on the line, you don’t mess with what works.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I don’t go to see a movie based on the poster, I go based more on the trailer. But if I saw a poster that stood out I might be more inclined to check out the trailer online. These posters are like white noise, utterly generic, so they don’t tell me much about the films at all.

      • The_Stig

        Today’s movies are made solely for the opening weekend. Once a film opens at number one, the studios could give a rat’s ass if it stays there. Sad part is, that shit works.

  • The_Stig

    Oh god. It’s a Wonderful Life 2? Anybody want to take a stab at what the poster’s going to look like? I’ll go first.

    Teal and orange color palette, George Bailey, depicted from behind, standing at an angle, in front of some obstacle he has to overcome, carrying a gun. With “YOU WILL KNOW HIS NAME” printed over the entire thing, and above him, the floating heads of the actors with agents not good enough to get them out of this film.

  • Muthsarah

    My second thought whenever I hear arguments like this (after first agreeing with them, because they’re usually reflecting things we’ve all noticed before) is: Is it always gonna be this way? Is there any hope? Or is this inevitable when moviemaking gets so expensive and movies have to appeal to EVERYBODY (meaning the studio’s idea of what Joe/Jane Everybody thinks).

  • CBob

    Have you seen the cover art for “The Thing” that’s replaced that painting for the last half-decade? It’s the cheapest, blandest photoshop abortion you’ve ever seen. As a fan of the film, It makes me cringe to the bottom of my soul. Worst part is, they already had a great alternate cover with the original European release poster, so they didn’t even have to pay anyone to do anything if they just wanted to switch things up. It’s as if someone in the marketing department deliberately wanted to sabotage sales via the cover.

    It always puzzled me why the LOTR movie posters were just cheap generic photoshop collages. Of all possible films over the last two decades, those were practically begging for old-school, Lucasfilm-style painted posters. They already had three famous Tolkien illustrators doing concept art for the productions. You can’t tell me they couldn’t have just added some poster art to their to-do lists.

    • Muthsarah

      The LotR films were already hugely expensive, and weren’t seen as anything close to guaranteed hits. Not that “guaranteed hits” get original posters (Iron Man 3, for instance), but whether or not a movie is worthy of a good poster, whether or not the source material is worthy of a good poster, whether or not the target fanbase is worthy of a good poster, whether or not cinematic posterity is worthy of a good poster…they’re gonna hedge every bet they can and go with what’s predictable, especially if the film cost a mint.

      That said, while I do know what posters you’re referring to, they weren’t all that way. One of my favorite semi-recent movie posters was one of the FotR posters.
      (If the image doesn’t load or the link is broken, it’s the one with the Argonath)

      That one, and that one only, had class.

      • CBob

        That is a MUCH better poster than the one I’ve always seen for FOTR (and which served as the default DVD/Blu-Ray cover).

        I’m not sure about the rest though. Harry Potter was able to swing the painted poster thing, though admittedly it was just a painted version of a “floating head” design, and did come out after TLOTR and thus was able to ride its coattails a bit. But the thing is,everybody remembers the old Lucasfilm posters. That stuff worked just as well if not better than the standard modern $2 photoshop jobs. And since they already had the painters on staff for the production anyway, it wouldn’t have cost them extra like it usually would for other movies.
        That studio logic works for most IPs, but given the giant amount of latitude the LOTR production was given all ’round by the studio, I’d actually be a kinda surprised if the studio comandeered the poster designs in that case. I suspect it’s just a bit of bad delegation or an oversight (couldn’t really fault anyone important for being too busy to think about the posters in a production that big and complex).