Along with trailers, film posters are one of the biggest tools a PR agency has to promote a new film. A good film poster can get your mind racing and get the blood pumping as you eagerly anticipate the film’s release. Posters are some of the first interactions people have with a film and can instantly determine their excitement levels towards it. So why, oh why, do they often end up looking like they were made by a blind kindergarten child? There are some incredibly talented graphic designers and Photoshoppers out there whose talents are clearly going to waste whilst idiot with clearly no interest in movies knocks something together on MS Paint.
And it’s bad enough that someone has actually created such monstrosities, but someone at the film’s PR agency, whose job it is to advertise the film and make people actually want to watch it, will have signed it off. Surely a quick quality control check by anyone with eyes would be enough to set the sirens off and ensure whoever vomited up these pieces of crap are never allowed near a stock photo of Jessica Biel or Katherine Heigl again.
Here I have highlighted some of the reasons why bad movie posters annoy me so much…
The Bad Photoshop
By far the most ubiquitous amongst awful movie posters, the bad Photoshop is also the most obvious of fuck ups. Often found on posters of generic romantic comedies, it requires only rudimentary Photoshop skills to cut actors from stock photos and position next to other actors obviously cut from a separate stock photo. There may also be face transplants, limb extension/reduction, mismatched lines of sight, and various other reality puncturing mistakes. What gets me about these is that I don’t understand why it’s so hard to just take a photo of the actors together at the same time. Sure, that’s not always easy, especially if the poster is coming out way ahead of the film, but it should be in their contract that they should be available for such purposes.
Just look at the adjacent poster for The Penthouse. Look at it good and hard. In fact, you don’t have to look at it good and hard; it’s so blatantly abhorrent it verges on offensive. Are we seriously meant to believe that all of those people are in the same bed at the same time? I’d also wager that none of those actors’ faces actually belong to their bodies. It raises so many questions. Why does Rider Strong only have half a chest? Where are Kayley Cuoco’s legs ( I think that’s here in the middle), just where is she gazing, and why is she trying to crush Mya? I can only imagine the unimpressed look on Corey Large’s face is because he was privvy to an early mock up of this poster.
This is but one of hundreds, if not thousands, of badly Photoshopped film posters. I know some films have small budgets but there are some talented artists, graphic designers, Photoshoppers out there. it can’t be that difficult to find one.
See also: The Accidental Husband, The Bounty Hunter, The Whole Ten Yards
The Deliberately Misleading
I doubt there are many people who would base their decision whether to see a film or not solely on a poster, and judging by some posters that’s probably a good thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a film’s poster is supposed to give some sort of idea as to the tone of the film. Disney always have jolly and colourful posters, whilst horror films usually have dark and foreboding ones. Not exactly rocket science. So why make a poster that can only be described as intentionally misleading? The one that jumps out at me more than any other in this respect is My Girl.
What a heartwarming and delightful film My Girl must be based on that poster. Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky look like they’re having a blast enjoying the best days of their life. That is until Macaulay Culkin GETS KILLED BY A HUGE SWARM OF BEES! Yep, stung to death. Of course, there are nicey nice issues going on as well but nothing can mask the fact that a child (and a child who was universally loved at the time thanks to Home Alone) had been offed by a load of bees. Good luck with your traumatised children.
See also: Seven Psychopaths (the one where they list people as psychopaths who aren’t the psychopaths in the film), My Sister’s Keeper, Kramer vs Kramer
The Disconcertingly Vague
This is kind of a sub-section the misleading poster in that it offers no clue whatsoever as to what the film is actually about. These are perhaps the laziest of all posters as they take no creative thought; at least badly Photoshopped posters are a dearth of skill rather than imagination. You can glean little to no information from these posters, and they’re often only used to shove down your throat the fact that a Hollywood star has a new film out – it doesn’t matter what the film is about; all that matters is that it exists and you should tip your wallet over the nearest box office cashier so you can watch it.
Now that’s not to say that the films these posters are advertising are bad, because a lot of them aren’t. A lot of them are pretty good; it’s just the poster that’s terrible. Take Jerry Maguire over there – perfectly good film but apparently the only thing we need to know about it is that Tom Cruise is in it. And maybe the fact he wears a shirt and tie. Other than that, this could be a film about drug addiction, a rogue CIA agent or Tom Cruise might end up being killed by a swarm of bees.
It should also be noted that teaser posters are not included here. Teaser posters are supposed to be vague and are therefore exempt from this rant. They can still be rubbish though.
See also: Vanilla Sky, Hitch, Funny People
The Mismatched Names
This is probably the least obvious and more sporadically occurring of bad movie posters but it is one that has always annoyed me. So, to clarify, this is where you have two or more actors on the posters, usually lined up, and the names at the top listing who’s in the film do not match up with the pictures underneath. So you could have Brad Pitt’s name above Julia Roberts’ face. Now I know this is down to contract stuff and the names aren’t necessarily there to indicate who the actor below is, etc, etc, but it still looks weird. On some posters it’s not all that obvious but for some it sticks out a mile and someone really should have flagged it up. If it’s not possible to do the simple thing and switch the names around due to whatever reason, then surely it’s not too difficult to edit the photo and move some people around so everything matches up. Maybe this is me just being a little obsessive compulsive but, again, it just smacks of laziness.
This poster for Morning Glory is a perfect example. The names are so close to the actors’ heads that it’s almost impossible to notice they don’t match, and once you’ve noticed it, it becomes more and more obvious. They’ve managed to get Diane Keaton right; that’s definitely Diane Keaton, but Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams are almost certainly wrong. When there’s little else happening in the poster other than having the three of them standing there (this could also be a vague poster, in fact), the whole thing is amplified even more.
See also: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Network, Sherlock Holmes
So there we have it – some example of how bad film posters annoy me. Are there any that particularly do your head in for whatever reason? Leave a comment and let me know.