ANALYZING MEDIA: Movie Posters
You see them everywhere. Movie posters are prominently displayed on billboards, in the lobby of your local movie theater, in magazines, on the Internet, and even on the sides of buses. But how often do you stop and think about the effects movie posters have on you?
It’s important to remember that movie posters are advertisements. The goal of a poster essentially is to “sell” the movie—to make you want to see it. How does it do that? The poster may have the movie title in a big and bold font. Images of the movie’s attractive actors are usually featured. In addition, the actors’ names are probably included somewhere on the poster to remind you that the movie has big-name stars. Designs, colors, and fonts are used to appropriately reflect the mood and tone of the film. And the poster probably includes a catchy sentence or slogan that piques your interest and makes the plot seem intriguing.
The visual elements on a movie poster can convey powerful messages. The best posters may make you anxiously anticipate an upcoming release. The worst ones may not have a persuasive effect at all. By analyzing movie posters, you can gain a better understanding of the elements that effectively grab the attention of movie-goers and sell the movie’s story—even before viewers see it for themselves.
Now’s your chance to evaluate the best and worst movie posters you’ve seen. Search the sites below for movie posters that advertise all different types of films, from the most current releases to older classics. After you’ve searched these poster archives, select one poster that you find visually interesting and effective and one that does not have a persuasive effect. Write a comparative analysis of both posters, explaining what you like and don’t like about each one. Refer to the Questions to Consider as you write your analysis. Consider sharing your analysis with your classmates.
Questions to Consider:
- Is the movie title prominently featured? Is the text easy to read?
- Are the main actors shown? If so, which ones? What do their appearances and expressions convey about the movie?
- What is the design of the movie poster? Does it accurately reflect the mood and tone of the film?
- What other images are included? What do you notice about the framing of the images?
- What text is shown on the poster? Is there a catchy slogan? If so, what does it tell you about the movie’s story?
- Is there any other important information included on the poster?
- Why do/don’t you think this movie poster is persuasive?
The positioning of objects, actors, and text within the frame of a poster to achieve a particular effect. For example, a movie poster for an action film might feature the main actor framed in such a way as to make him seem attractive, strong, and invincible.
The feeling created for a viewer by the director’s use of details, music, and cinematography.
A catchy and memorable phrase or sentence on a movie poster. An effective slogan should convey the mood, tone, and main idea of the film without giving too much away. It should capture viewers’ attention and make them interested in the story.
The filmmaker’s attitude as reflected in the movie—ironic, serious, and so forth.