Blockbastards

Posted June 16, 2015, under Ad Absurdum

For decades, “tentpole” or “blockbuster” films have been a staple of summer — since the late 1970s with the release and runaway success of Spielberg’s Jaws.

One presumes the combination of beach and air conditioning was irresistible to summer audiences.

Used to be, this was primarily an American phenomenon — at least as far as Hollywood’s accounting of box office success went — but the rest of the world has been gaining prominence and importance to studios. We mean, if you were wondering how we keep getting more Transformers movies, it’s because the foreign income accounted for half or more of the total gross.

This is very likely why the U.S. no longer leads the way when it comes to film releases. This year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, for example, was released in 39 countries a full week before it opened Stateside, and that film made tons of money.

One wonders if this plays a factor into why Russia’s movie poster for the upcoming Ant-Man movie is objectively better than domestic offerings.

It Didn’t Used to Be That Way

But this article isn’t about movies, but their posters. Before Hollywood realized that audiences in other countries also have money,* the marketing budget to countries outside the U.S. appear to have been sketchy at best. That is why we thought it would be fun to serve up a few examples of how foreign movie posters used to be.

* Yes, this is a vast oversimplification that fails to take into account political regimes, technological capabilities, and other issues ranging from economic sanctions to copyrights. We know. But where’s the snark in that?

Let’s start with one that’s fairly recent.

Whether you want to remember the film’s existence or not, we have to admit we’re impressed the Slovenians matched the Indiana Jones font. As you’ll see, that is not usual.

Here’s a good case in point — like most of these examples, it goes back to the early days of the “blockbuster” phenomenon. Certainly foreign distribution at the time was probably a lot less structured and regulated than it would be today.

We mean, for all we know, the Polish Ghostbusters has a completely different plot, where the ghosts are doing the busting. We could infer that from this poster.

The Hungarian poster for Aliens is kind of on point — something in space doesn’t like humans — but literally nothing about this image other than its color evokes the actual series antagonist.

Granted, the minimalism of the U.S. original isn’t for everyone.

Keeping with the aliens theme:

We wonder how many American teenagers thought the film was about a different sort of close encounter? We guess the Hungarians wanted to avoid any such confusion.

Meanwhile, in Africa:

If you’re unfamiliar with this film, based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, Cujo is a Saint Bernard. Not whatever that is on the right. Maybe they don’t see many Saint Bernards in Africa, but he’s in the movie.

This brings us almost all the way back to the beginning of the blockbusters. Universal Studios wanted to catch lightning in a bottle again, so they pushed a sequel into production (which was also rare back then, although not completely unheard-of). While they had a decent film on their hands, they lacked the genius of the Polish poster painter.

A shark with two mouths. Somewhere, a SyFy executive is kicking himself for not thinking of this.

Duplication Is Important

If there’s one thing these all have in common, it’s that their duplication of the product (the movie) is poor to terrible. At Rigney Graphics, we know that duplication of your needs and your product is key to good design.


Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.