Many things aggravate me in this world: Eli Roth fans, folks who use the word “Mm’Kay?” like it’s still funny, Carlos Mencia fans, and people who say “Git Er Done!”, and people who watch “I Love New York.” Lots of things annoy me, as you can tell.
But the one thing I hate is a great movie shafted with a bad movie poster. It seemed for a long time that studios weren’t even trying anymore. Though, floating heads in the dark are still pretty prominent, I’m more than glad that studios have found way to show off the stars without sacrificing the dignity of the movie.
One of my favorite poster series of the year so far has been for “Grindhouse” which manages to find a great excuse to show off its cast, while also keeping the dignity of the old grindhouse cinema one sheets that were so much fun to look at. Posters for movies like “Faster Pussycat!” and “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS” were so much fun to look at from time to time, and “Grindhouse” kept that tradition.
I’ve read about times where posters were just as important as the trailer. I recall an interview with William Friedkin where he discusses going ballistic over a ridiculous concept for the poster of “The Exorcist.”
But then there are also the movies that are bigger than its stars. Posters for movies like “Snakes on a Plane,” and “Transformers” are posters that don’t really need to sell their stars, when the gimmicks are doing it for them. Who cares who is in a movie about rabid snakes on a plane? Who cares who is starring in a movie about giant robots fighting a war on Earth? I don’t.
“300” was also a film that was sold on its concept and not its stars. There are lots of people who don’t know, or even give a s**t who Gerard Butler is. Granted, I enjoyed him in “Dracula 2000,” but that’s a whole other entry for a whole other time, folks.
I’m glad we’ve somewhat come across a time where studios are experimenting with radical posters instead of just cropping stars onto a one-sheet. There are STILL many terrible movie posters out there, but there are also some great ones, too. I know a poster collector who stopped collecting modern posters because they looked too much like photographs and not like art.
Take the lazy and drab “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Harry Potter” series of posters. Who would have thought people would get so excited for a poster that just shows the stars standing up? With the blockbusters you don’t even have to try, you can just show your stars and the movie sells itself. Do you think people are going to see “Fantastic Four 2” for the cast, or for Silver Surfer? You know the answer.
I’m always a fan of the movies that have to use the posters to sell the movie.
My favorite posters series were for “Black Snake Moan,” a group of promotional posters that managed to successfully garner my interest with the image of Samuel L. Jackson holding onto a chained Christina Ricci like a dog. The poster has a quasi-grind house and exploitation motif to it, which would be why I was rather fascinated by it.
And who can forget the fiasco involving the billboards for “Captivity” that reminded us of the joys of censorship? While I do think the studios should have been reprimanded, I think the petition to keep “Captivity” from receiving a rating was an ultimate act of sheer censorship that many agreed with. It’s something I’m still rather shocked about. After constant debating I found many would do anything to excuse our permissiveness for censorship in this country. It was also quite hilarious to read about how parents were worried their children would be scarred for life.
And then there were the posters for “Leslie Vernon” which I am still rather fond of, and the posters for the zombie comedy “Fido” are priceless, especially the one of Billy Connelly’s title character being pulled on a leash by his master along a white picket fence.
I’m glad filmmakers are doing everything in their power to attract audiences with these posters, but there just still isn’t enough creativity in film posters to really hope for an artistic change. Traveling on the IMP Awards, I found almost nothing but cheesy cropped actors, and floating heads in the darkness. I wish there were posters these days that still had something to do with the film and incorporated some sense of creativity to garner interest.
I’m probably one of the few who gives a s**t about this issue, since general audiences don’t really give a crap about this stuff. I mean, lets be honest here, no one really gave a s**t about the crappy “Ghost Rider” posters besides the comic geeks, anyway. And I may be the only one who isn’t excited about the cheesy “Hostel 2” posters that blatantly gauge the gore hounds (“Look blood! Proof it will be awesome!”).
But looking at the posters for great films like “The Host,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Severance,” and “Hot Fuzz” signaled a change that’s due in the film business, and I gather the foreigners will bring about this new direction. I hope it comes soon, though, because I’d love for the new generation of movie goers have something to be excited about with movies beyond actual movies.
Posters, film scores, the studios and modern age make it all seem so antiquated sometimes. Movies for me, should be an experience, and not just a task. Hopefully the resurgence of creative movie posters will keep movies a novelty for more years to come. I can dream.
On that note, I end this entry with my favorite poster of the year, so far. Maintain the Quarantine.