Movie Poster Cliches

By , posted 5 August 2013

Jackomatic has put together this interesting blog post, entitled 15 Over-Used Movie Poster Clichés which looks at graphic design styles which are commonly used for posters for movies in specific genres. The post generally takes a negative view towards this, singing the familiar "Hollywood is creatively bankrupt" tune. While this is generally true of the films it produces, when it comes to posters, using graphic design cues to help audience make sense of what a film is about is not only deliberate, but critically important.

Taking a step back for a moment, consider what the purpose of a movie poster is. Movie posters are advertisements for a film. And as an advertisement, a poster must communicate information about the film to a potential viewer. The challenge is that movies are complex to explain in any short and succinct way. The title might give you some clue, and maybe the cast if they're recognisable. But that, plus an image and a tagline might be your only other clues to what the movie might be about.

To counter this problem, film distributors (they're the ones responsible for marketing a film) have, over the years, subtly trained the audience to sub-consciously understand what a movie's genre (and therefore story) might be by using design conventions. Remember, graphic design by nature is about communication. Unlike art, everything in a design has purpose; from the fonts, colours, and layout, through to the empty space. And this purpose is to help the viewer gain the best understanding of what is being presented to them.

Movie posters follow conventions, because as viewers we have extremely limited attention spans. At a glance, the poster must tell us not only what the film is called or who is in it, but also what it's likely to be about. This is achieved through a blend of verbal and non-verbal cues, and can be critical in helping a film reach its intended audience.

So while the Artist out there might decry the apparent uniformity, designers (and marketeers) should be rejoicing at the fact these conventions exist... because they make it just that little bit easier to get people to come and see a film.

Reader Comments

Pablo, 23-Dec-2013
Can you suggest me the best ingredients a horror movie poster should have?

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