September 28, 2019

Been to the Cinema Lately?

Uncanny…

Movie Posters are taken as an opportunity to choose where a film is placed in the market, and what audiences the filmmakers are targeting.

There are many cases where movies have striking similarities in the contents of their poster, resulting in a feeling of familiarity within the viewer, and chances are, if the viewer liked one of these movies, they’ll probably want to watch the others as well. It’s important to note here that this usually isn’t the result of lazy designing, and if all is executed strategically, it may prove to be quite a successful case of branding.

Take a look at these posters for The Proposal (2009), Four Christmases (2008), and The Ugly Truth (2009). Notice a pattern? The male and female leads assuming identical poses, the black suits, the bold presence of the color red. With that being said, all of these films were released less than a year apart, scoring very close ratings between 5.7 to 6.7 on IMDB.

Let’s look at Marvel’s take on this form of branding. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Avengers: Infinity War came out a year apart, and as both films are part of the same cinematic universe and film series, the studio was naturally looking to grasp that same audience. Therefore, both films needed to be presented similarly to appeal to that audience. Aladdin came out a year after Infinity War, a movie that shattered numerous box office records and remains to be one of the biggest box office hits of all time. Disney seized this opportunity to feed off that recent and very fresh success simply by depicting Aladdin’s poster in a not-so-obvious but still very familiar way. When you think of Aladdin, you’ll never associate the film with any of the MCU’s movies, and looking at the poster for Aladdin will not remind you of your favorite Avengers. However, if you look at the posters side-by-side, the similarities are a bit more clear; the title placement, the positioning of the main character in an eminent and powerful action-shot, with the secondary, but still very loved characters placed vibrantly in the background.

This combination of visuals are aimed to trigger a subconscious and subtle sense of deja vu for those who might have seen and loved the recent Marvel films, causing them to likely lean towards giving Aladdin a shot. The use of orange and blue also takes on a substantial role in the fulfillment of this task. The two colors have proved to have a powerful presence in movie posters over the years as many action packed blockbusters opted for this color combo such as The Dark Knight (2008), The Bourne Identity (2002), and most of the Fantastic Four movies. Their complimentary nature is used to loudly manifest adrenaline and thrill within viewers.

Comedy Cliches

In a recent episode of his hit comedy series ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’, Jerry Seinfeld comments about the overuse of a certain comedy movie poster cliche. “I want movie posters to stop having a facial expression where one person is not aware of how much they’re irritating the other person in the poster.” The punchline of this joke is not only the fact that there are so many movie posters depicting this exact notion, but the fact that no one has actually noticed this pattern. This is the perfect epitome of how the implementation of the concept of recurring movie posters is for the most part subliminal, and proves to show how much designers can really get away with while mooching off the contents of others.

There are outstanding resemblances that can be seen in the posters for Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! (2017). They both channel that same eerie aesthetic that comes with phycological horrors, both in the design of their posters, and quite possibly in a few plot elements.

Both the house in Mother! and the stroller in Rosemary’s Baby are the center of their storylines, hence being placed respectively in the middle of their posters. A house and a baby are two things that are commonly associated with love and comfort. However, both the characters in these films ironically fall victim to these two things. This is visually depicted in the posters as both objects are placed within the characters, as if manifesting them. Both characters, shot in side profile, express blank expressions of helplessness. Despite having several plot elements in common, including the strong presence of irony, both storylines are completely unique. Ultimately, basing the poster for Mother! on the poster design for Rosemary’s Baby, one of the biggest horror movies of the sixties sets off a marketing strategy that targets a sense of nostalgia as well as familiarity. It also serves as an interesting easter egg for movie lovers.