Every new movie has to be marketed, and although this typically involves a plethora of online advertising techniques these days, there’s still no replacement for the humble movie poster.
Every time you go to the cinema, you’ll likely see tonnes of movie posters dotted around the place, all of which are usually for upcoming movies (unless the lazy cinema staff have forgotten to take old ones down).
These posters are there to do two things: build up anticipation prior to release; and more importantly, invoke a sense of curiosity, ensuring that you leave with that “we’ll have to see that when it’s released” mind-set.
Obviously, not all movie posters are great (and therefore don’t have the desired effect), but there have certainly been some great ones over the years.
Being a designer and movie-buff myself, I absolutely love looking at movie posters; I’ve even built-up quite a collection of my favourite ones around my home over the years.
I’ve rounded up some of my all-time favourites below; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do (and remember, if you like any of them, you can always order them online from somewhere like FastPrint).
#1 – Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac is perhaps one of the most underrated movies of all-time (at least in my opinion), despite the fact that it was nominated for no less than zero Oscars.
It’s also a movie with a great, haunting movie poster, which kick-started the marketing campaign. It features an eerie image of a bridge, shrouded in mist, along with the tagline “there’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer”.
It gives hardly anything away about the movie itself, but any avid fans of David Fincher will likely already know what to expect from the director.
#2 – Scarface (1983)
Al Pacino gives an incredible performance in the movie, Scarface, and the poster isn’t half bad either.
It features Pacino, giving a somewhat malevolent look, dressed in a sharp black and white suit, holding a gun. It’s one of the most famous images in film history, and one that is printed on the t-shirts of many Scarface fans around the world.
You’ll also notice the monochromatic colour styling, which is a rare sight when it comes to movie posters, as they’re typically driven by bold colourful imagery.
However, the poster isn’t totally void of colour, as bright red is used for the typography near the top; it’s thought that this particular colour was chosen as it signifies the level of blood loss throughout the film.
#3 – Downhill Racer (1969)
When you first look at this poster, you’ll probably first notice the stark photography, as this is what initially attracts your attention. Upon further inspection, however, other things start to emerge.
It’s pretty small, but you’ll notice below the photograph, there appears to be a man skiing on a slope (which fits in with the title of the movie). It’s an intriguing design that if nothing else, certainly invokes a sense of curiosity in the viewer.
Remember, this poster was created back in 1969, so not everything is perfect (the typography is a bit weird, for example), but it’s definitely one of the greatest movie posters out there, in my opinion.
#4 – Manhattan (1979)
Manhattan is an Oscar-winning (unlike Zodiac) romantic comedy that is almost certainly one of Woody Allen’s greatest movies.
Upon first glance, it’s likely the urban-photography of Manhattan that stands out, as it is de-saturated and features an almost silhouette-like depiction of two people sat on a bench.
Below this, there’s the enviable cast list (including Woody Allen himself), which is prominently located and is given the attention it quite-rightly deserves.
Even further down the poster, you can see the iconic Manhattan lettering, which is made up of a number of iconic Manhattan buildings (including the Twin Towers).
It’s an absolutely classic poster that once again, has a monochromatic colour scheme.
#5 – Secretary (2002)
Secretary has to be one of the most eye-catching movie posters of all-time, thanks to the stereotypical image of a “sexy secretary”, which takes centre stage.
It’s far from subtle, but there’s no way you can miss this poster, and there’s no way you can miss the somewhat sleazy tagline either, which reads, “Assume the position”.
But, perhaps most genius aspect of all is the relatively unnatural position the “sexy secretary” has undertaken. It’s this pose that makes you curious about what the movie actually entails.
#6 – Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Much like the poster for Downhill Racer (#3), this poster for Rosemary’s Baby also features a stark combination of stunning photography (upper half), and an understated, curiosity-invoking silhouette (bottom half).
It’s also quite a simple and minimalistic poster, featuring only four words: “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby”.
It certainly has a haunting quality to it, and there’s no way that you’d mistake this movie for anything other than a horror film.
#7 – Blade Runner (1982)
A cool-looking Harrison Ford is what initially stands out from this movie poster for Blade Runner, but the more you look at it, the more elements there are that jump out at you.
It’s an action-packed poster that takes inspiration from neo-noir cinema, although there are sci-fi aspects of the design, too (such as the flying car and large, futuristic-looking skyscrapers).
The poster represents the movie perfectly, and the tagline “man has met his match, now it’s his problem” helps even further to demonstrate the action-packed nature of the film.
#8 – Vertigo (1958)
Vertigo: undoubtedly one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest movies, and also a movie with a somewhat infamous poster.
There’s no doubt that the poster is exceptionally cool, which is to be expected when you take into account the fact that it was designed by Saul Bass, one of the movie poster industries greatest designers.
The combination of the almost-hypnotic spirograph in cthe entre, the jagged typography, and the bright red background makes this poster the perfect addition to any room (including James Wilsons’ office in the hit-US show, House M.D.).
#9 – Taxi Driver (1976)
Robert De Niro couldn’t look much cooler here, which is to be expected, considering the fact that De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, is one of the coolest (if not the coolest) character(s) in movie history.
It’s a relatively simple poster, which features a charismatic De Niro with his iconic, beaten-up yellow taxi behind him.
It’s the shot of De Niro himself that does most of the work here, as he looks somewhat uncomfortable, yet he also appears to exude confidence; an interesting combination that certainly gets you curious about the movie.
#10 – Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Despite the fact that it was produced in the late-1950’s, this poster for Anatomy of a Murder remains one of the most iconic movie posters in history, and it looks as fresh and stunning today as it did almost 60 years ago.
It’s another colourful poster, making use of bright red and orange to attract initial attention.
It’s a poster of two halves, really: one half features the iconic, silhouette-like illustration of a murdered body; the other half features the enviable cast list (which of course, includes James Stewart).
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