Let’s Go to the Movies!

Posted September 18, 2013, under Inspired Ideas

Located as we are in the Greater Los Angeles area, the movie industry pretty much dominates our environment. Restaurants and coffee shops are apparently staffed by Central Casting, everyone’s working on their screenplay, and you can’t swing a cat without hitting a movie ad.*

Billboards, bus ads, bench ads, bus-stop ads (the studios must pretty much own LA Metro); and, of course, the posters at the theater. All this exposure backfires when it makes it so easy to tell that everyone’s ripping off everyone else.

Sometimes the imitation is a little too obvious, like the posters for Rush (2013) and Thor (2011), both starring Chris Hemsworth.

The Hemsworth scowl: now available in clean-shaven.

*The SPCA and PETA would like us to remind our readers that cat-swinging is generally frowned upon.


This Lunch Meat has not been rated

“Extreme close-up with text on” seems to be the trendiest trend, and the most versatile.¬†Occasionally the face is text; other times they’re sort of in between.

What do these movies have in common? Their design agency, apparently.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol came out around the same time, and we often saw these posters side-by-side. Men in Black III apparently wanted a piece of that action but didn’t have time for subtlety.

Trivia tip: That Ghost Protocol poster is also one of the very few posters where Tom Cruise is looking directly at the viewer.

We mentioned in a recent Lunch Meat that color is one of the ways designers convey their message. For instance, yellow means “quirky independent film.”

Really, though: is there any other sort of independent film?

There are dozens more. A close-up of an eye? It’s a horror or science fiction film. A shot of some dude from behind? He’s totally a badass. Bonus points if your adventure thriller poster has a predominantly blue color scheme.

All of this could be construed as further evidence that Hollywood has lost all vestiges of originality. But here’s the thing: The whole point of movie posters is to sell the movie at a glance. Having design conventions like these are a huge aid to that instant communication.