Movie posters are supposed to be the first and most prominent promotional tool of a film. Many times movie posters may be the first official material released for a film production as well as the first opportunity that the film has to reach its potential audience. That makes them very important. Like trailers, they are meant to capture your attention. Unlike trailers, they are not supposed to give too much away. There are various techniques that have been used over the years to accomplish this task including bright colors, eye-catching fonts, and the prominent inclusion of big name stars’ faces. Graphic design as well as a general nod to the production design of the film are important components for every movie poster. Before the advent of computers, and to a lesser extent, copy machines, movie posters were drawn by hand. Today, we have computers and photoshop to utilize and create anything our minds can come up with.
You’d think that with this advanced technology, movie posters would have improved. But that is not the case at all. In fact, one could argue that the advent of computers has allowed for more terrible movie posters than ever before simply because of the ease by which movie posters can now be created. Any person with a computer and an hour or so to kill can put something together that may have previously taken months. Furthermore, with the importance of trailers and online advertising, the importance of movie posters is not what it once was. On one hand, you have a higher possibility of an unskilled person making (or making the decisions about) a movie poster, and on the other hand studios are putting less emphasis on them.
Last year alone movies such as Spider Man: Homecoming and Transformers: The Last Knight have come under fire for the perceived poor quality of their movie posters. Consider that these are huge blockbuster movies and as big-budget movies their posters play an important role in their advertisement, which in turn plays a role in the film’s ultimate theatrical success. However, these two examples are just the tip of the iceberg of bad movie posters over the years. As the following terrible movie posters will show you, there are many bad offenders. From poor design, to boring layouts, to terrible execution, these posters (in no particular order) just don’t do any favors for their respective films.
It’s so bright. It’s so in-your-face. It’s so annoying. I understand that the designers of this poster were trying to match the off-kilter tone of the film, but this one borders on assault. Movie posters should not turn you off from the film they are trying to promote.
X-Men: First Class
This poster only has two elements. Of those two elements, half are terrible. Why is McAvoy’s head floating in a space bubble in middle of professor X’s body? Is this really the best method they could come up with to connect the young professor X with the older one? Creativity AND execution are clearly lacking.
The Room is considered one of the worst movies ever made, and so it is only fitting that the poster is also terrible. It starts with the font and the lazy-eyed (black and white?) picture of Tommy. These elements make the movie seem like a horror film. Then you have photos of just about all of the characters in this film who have a speaking part. It’s just too much, and there’s nothing here to hint at what the movie is actually about.
Kevin James looks as excited to be in this movie as we all were to watch it. The expression on his face looks like he is laughing at an unfunny joke while slowly backing away. The gorilla is at least looking close to the camera, but James is looking up to space. He’s totally done with this.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
This poster is A MESS. For one, it is an illustrated poster, which makes the proportions a bit odd and the overall tone a bit awkward. Then you have the weird reflection in the building in the background – if this is a movie poster, why are they concerned about the reflection? The gentleman in the bottom left corner has a broken leg and his hair is on fire, and the two main characters (the FOCUS of the poster) have no shadows. On top of it all the creators of this poster violated graphic design rule #1 by making text illegible due to poor background color choices. I think Spock and Captain Kirk’s expressions sum this one up perfectly.
Character profiles for movie posters are generally good ideas. This is one of the cases where it was a bad idea. This movie tells the story of a mentally deranged stalker/murder. Just the type of person whose photo you want blown up and in your face. It’s weird, creepy, and disturbing. This looks like a horror movie, not a historical dramatization.
This Hayden Christensen vehicle (remember him?) commits several movie poster sins. For one, it is horribly photoshopped. I get that they’re trying to show a lot of skin in order to be risque, but the various torsos and appendages aren’t at the same level, and they are different scales. Furthermore, the lighting is terrible. Christensen’s face looks like it’s a piece of paper because it is so faded.
The Last Song
This is one of those weird photoshop jobs. The film is a romantic drama, yet the poster has the main characters facing away from each other. It’s bad enough to have Liam Hemsworth backwards looking over his shoulder (you can’t really even tell it is him), but to have his head floating above the sun makes it fade. Also Miley, while floating in space herself, has a look on her face like she is completely not paying attention to what you are saying.
The weirdest thing about this poster? It was released on the same day in 2009 as Jet Li’s Warriors film. See any similarities with these two movie posters?
Besides having a terrible title, this film has to have one of the worst photoshopped disaster posters of all time. The concept is alright, but then they clearly photoshopped the dog into the picture of the two main actors. That dog is just floating there, and the lighting is all sorts of wrong. The worst part about this is that there are other versions of this poster used for advertising and they are all equally bad.
This poster is full of action movie poster cliches: Cliche 1 – White and red font. Cliche 2 – leather jacket. Cliche 3 – fire and sparks to make it look intense. Cliche 4 – Bullet holes. You know what’s missing? Guns. Not only is Nick Cage in a very awkward position, something was clearly photoshopped out of his hand. I guess they didn’t want to promote violence….in an action movie. Why else would he be reaching for a gun in his jacket…why doesn’t it just show him with gun drawn?