The Movie Poster: The Most Iconic Promotional Tool-Part 1

10 Sep

The movie poster frequently considered one of the most iconic promotional tools of the feature film industry. This article will not be exhaustive but will try to isolate some of the persistent aspects of this form of film advertising. One might see the poster used to promote a feature film, advertise an Oscar telecast, or be used as a form of memorabilia.  This article will be concerned with poster as a form of film advertising only.  Hopefully this article will help us better determine whether the contemporary movie poster remains a vital form of feature film advertising.

Common Placement and Frequent Settings:

Where might you see the feature film poster? At a theatre one might find one in the or around a box office, lobby or foyer area [1].  Any part of the house [2] (the non-theater stage area) may display posters yet the most aggressive advertiser might not be on or within the theater premises at all.

Frequently construction sites provide excellent walls for the presentation of posters yet the assertive conscious raiser may post a poster anywhere yet still preferably within blocks of the showcasing theater. Until recently, the film poster was designed to speak to the pedestrian and was designed to provoke traffic to the screening event.  Since many posters are large many urban areas commonly provide space for the presentation of posters on billboards, bus stations, within train stations and magazines.

Still there are those who resist the presentation of movie posters such as when you see the term “post no bill” printed on open wall space.  Sharing much of its history with live theatre productions,  the “bill” refers to the “playbill” that frequently described coming plays and other theatrical productions [3].

As an artistic creator’s product, the authorship of the film poster is primarily a creation of illustrators and graphic designers. I believe though Hollywood would gladly take all of the credit for the development of the film poster and all development generally, all manner of film production would ultimately develop on more than one continent. More detail will support this statement later.

Terminology to Distinguish an Isolated History:

Since the movie poster shares similarities with other forms of fine and popular entertainment like the stage play, the circus, and or and musical forms of entertainment it has developed a history that is at least valued in the varied memorabilia markets.

Many would claim the most common form of movie poster is “the one sheet”.  This form of ad has since 1984 tended to conform to the dimensions of “27 in X 40 in” page. Yet the product’s origins go all the way back to Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company in 1909 [4].  Created to address pedestrians the window card was another of advertising media that appeared commonly until the eighties [5].  This is how movieposter.com describes this product:

Window card movie posters were printed on heavier card stock paper from the 1920s to the mid 1980s. These posters would be placed outside the theaters, in windows of nearby shops and businesses, as a promotional tool. Most window cards had a blank space allocated at the top of the poster for the theater owners to print the date and show times of the movies they were promoting. [6]”

Often chosen as an alternative term to discuss the theater based movie poster “The Lobby Card” is commonly referenced in memorabilia supportive environments [7].

Today vintage movie posters are extremely valuable collectibles that sometimes retail in the millions.  Because maintaining posters was difficult prior to the 1940’s few of them even could be saved before this period.  Because of their rarity they are expensive and sought after. Because of their value a whole community of professionals support the Movie poster world.

Dealers can be found in every major western and non-western country that has a film or poster industry.  Framers of course attend to the security and display of movie posters.  Restorers help to sustain the value and upkeep of old movie posters. Auctions, magazines, books and grading organizations maintain distribution and maintain the value of the field and it’s discourses.  Suppliers provide materials to support all of previously mentioned functions [8].

Yet all of these activities assist preservation, guarantees conservation, and maintain a respect of the development of the contemporary and historical field, as we have known it.

Given all of the later innovations in movie advertisement, do you believe the movie poster is still an effective form of advertising for feature film entertainment?

 Please join us for a discussion Tuesday 9/11/2012 @7pmE/12UTC

—————————————————————-

REFERENCES:

[1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/foyer

[2]  http://eventful.com/rochester_ny/venues/german-house-theatre-/V0-001-001154610-9

[3] http://www.publicdomaintreasurehunter.com/2010/03/13/public-domain-performing-arts-posters-at-the-library-of-congress-part-ii/

[4] http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/newsite/index/articles/sizes.asp

[5] http://www.movieposter.com/cgi-bin/mpw8/search.pl?pl=kb&gn=All+genres&th=y&or=68&sv=0&page=0

[6] http://www.lobbycardinvasion.com/index4.html

[7] http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/#

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76 Responses to “The Movie Poster: The Most Iconic Promotional Tool-Part 1”

  1. littlebells September 10, 2012 at 2:49 PM #

    Great history CR. I look forward to the discussion.

    • Comic Relief September 10, 2012 at 3:14 PM #

      Thanks LB.

      With commerercials, trailers, and DVD covers, do you still believe the movie poster is an essential form of advertising for the feature film industry.

  2. googlepo September 10, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

    good content

    • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:38 PM #

      Thanks so much Googlepo. I hope you will return and comment again.

      • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:17 PM #

        Hello Googlepo! 🙂

  3. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM #

    The PHOTOSHOP CRITIC:

    For anyone who thinks posters are not necessary or are unimportant please check out these videos. These videos represent the work of some savage image development fans or producers. Their attention to irrational image creation, lazy Photoshop tricks, and poorly used tools might create bigger laughs than some of comedies some these posters represent.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

      This is funny CR!

      • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

        Loved the videos!

        • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

          LOL! Me too…I think feet are overrated. Who needs them in movie posters?

          • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

            I was wondering whether these were done in an assembly line process or not. Or maybe they were all created in one office. I’m going to pressume they are too elaborate, specific or different to be created too quickly.

          • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

            Bwahahahaha! I must admit, I’ve never noticed alot of those. I tend to notice the errors with hands and feet but not the others. It makes me want to inspect future posters I see even more closely!

            • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

              Hahaha! I think the absence of body parts or mile long wrist and arms make me think they did not have a good life drawing class.

  4. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM #

    THE LEAD ACTOR:

    Do movie posters tell us about the selling influence of lead actors? What can movie posters tell us about how audiences identify with lead characters? How does an audience verify what a lead character will be doing in a new movie?

    Here is a quiz that is very dependent on the situated or composed actions of the lead actor in a movie poster.

    http://www.coolquiz.com/quizzes/posters/
    *****Hint: Do not answer twice, double back or try to do answer again.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

      CR- U Said: “Do movie posters tell us about the selling influence of lead actors?”

      I think it should communicate some of the characters journey or opposition within the film.

      • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

        OB, I think you are absolutely correct. As you describe it that would hook in possible viewers.

        • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

          I agree!

          Also, I got 60 points before I ran out of chances. I only knew two for definate, the rest were guesses, lol!

          • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:42 PM #

            Ozzie, 60 is excellent!!! Congratulations!!!!

            • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

              Didn’t think that was all that good. Woo hoo!

              • littlebells September 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM #

                I GOT 90!!! I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing. Bad being I’ve watched waaaaaayyyy too many movies. 🙂

                • Open Book September 12, 2012 at 6:53 PM #

                  That is great LB! It’s nice to know u are a film trivia buff. Hmm!

  5. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM #

    THE FOCAL IMAGERY, IMAGE FRAGMENTS, THE COMPOSITIONAL LAYOUT:

    How should a movie poster organize thematic ideas. How do image hierarchies support the distribution of thematic ideas? What narrative strategies help audiences see themes in a popular narrative?

    Here is a quiz that asks you to identify iconic imagery that appears in the poster.

    http://www.hwdyk.com/quiz/m/131/movie-posters
    ******Do your best to score over 240,and possibly beat the author of this article.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:17 PM #

      That was fun!

      • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

        Great, what was your score? If you do not mind me asking…

        • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

          I think I got 80 out of 100?

          • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

            Fantastic scores OB.

          • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

            80 out of 100? Wow that is amazing!

            Am I looking at the wrong quiz because it only asked me 25 questions? Or is it the Hitchcock one? That one had 90+ questions but only if you joined the site… Maybe I should go to bed as I’m obviously confussing myself now but I always get addicted to these type of quizzes, lol!

        • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

          I got 19! I’m surprising myself. I didn’t know I took that much notice of movie posters before!

          • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

            LOL!! U are amazing Oz! Given u are operating on no sleep and no movie posters ads where u live. CR u should give Ozzie a movie poster.

            • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

              I don’t have any but if I did I certainly would.

              • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

                LOL! Woo hoo again! I’d like to thank my wierd brain for leading me on tangents and down rabbit holes when I’m looking for movie news on the internet.

    • MidnightCloak4 September 11, 2012 at 8:58 PM #

      Thanks for the link to the quiz CR. I made it up to 510 points. It was good mix of 50s, 70s, 80’s, and mid 90’s films. It makes me want to go back and watch some them.

      • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 9:09 PM #

        Hi MC4-

        I’m glad u joined us. Your score was AWESOME!!!

        • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:16 PM #

          Hello MidnightCloak4! That is an amazing score! 🙂

          • MidnightCloak4 September 11, 2012 at 9:21 PM #

            Thanks 🙂 I watched a lot of classic and underrated films and television shows growing up (I still do, lol)

            • Open Book September 12, 2012 at 6:47 PM #

              That is fantastic MC4. What inspired u to take an interest in these types of films?

  6. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 5:20 PM #

    THE NARRATIVE STORY:

    What relationship does the narrative have to the chosen imagery of the poster? How can we tell that audiences expect that the images of the poster should resemble the film? How do you think artists move from the film to making a representative image?

    You can’t win this quiz without being familiar with this Hitchcock movie.

    http://www.fanpop.com/spots/alfred-hitchcock/quiz/results/208651/name-movie-poster

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

      CR-“How can we tell that audiences expect that the images of the poster should resemble the film?”

      The images? I think lighting, silhouette and situations really gives the ambiance of the film.

      • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:22 PM #

        OB,

        You seem to really understand the illustrative goals of these artist’s I think you would make them smile.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

      I will give her one of mine???

      • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

        Thanks OB. I just remembered someone gave me a ‘Warrior” poster last year. If I can find it I will be shipping it very soon.

  7. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM #

    THE NARRATIVE STORY:

    You can’t win this quiz without being familiar with this Hitchcock movie either.

    http://www.fanpop.com/spots/alfred-hitchcock/quiz/results/208681/name-movie-poster

  8. Open Book September 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM #

    hi!

    • parisienne September 11, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      Hi Everyone,

      Let me read and get caught up!

      • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

        Hi Paris & LB.

        U must try some of the quizzes. CR will be a little late but he has given us some fun trivia and games to keep us busy.

  9. littlebells September 11, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    Reading and getting caught up. 🙂

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      Hi LB-

      Can u tell CR was inspired by u? We have trivia galore. LOL!!

      • littlebells September 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

        hahahahahaha!!! I LOVE IT! And I like to play fairly and not use google, if I can help it. 😉

        My evening is kind of crazy at the moment, so I apologize for not being truly present for CR’s great article and discussion. I will be back this evening to get caught up, take my quizzes and leave comments.

        • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:33 PM #

          …take your time….

  10. ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

    Hello all!

    I’m really tired so I’ll be slow in replying and may even fall asleep at the computer like before! Got to read and catch up too but from what I’ve skim read, it looks really good CR! 🙂

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      Sorry to hear your tired but glad to see u.

      • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

        It’s no problem. I’m going through a wierd sleeping phase (even by my standards, lol), give me 10 minutes I’ll probably be wide awake!

        Anyway, love the article CR! I learned quite alot from it.
        Q. Do you believe the movie poster is still an effective form of advertising for feature film entertainment?
        A. Not in my town unfortunately. There’s no cinema here so we don’t really get any posters in shops. There’s none in the local newspaper either and there’s none on the major construction site (just the company’s information). I don’t think we have any bill boards and our bus stops are mostly made of brick. I can only think of 3 possible bus stops where posters could be put up! 😦

        • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

          Oz!

          Your town does not support ad pollution? Do u prefer not seeing movie ads?

          • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

            Ozzie,

            I think they are still useful. I did not realize in some localities they were so endangered. I tend to see them more on the web tan anywhere else. Then again I usually see some pretty incredible ones when I am in the movie theater.

            • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 8:43 PM #

              Oh, I agree, they are still important! I don’t think my town has an ad pollution policy. I think it’s because it’s a run down town and despite the attempts to rejuvenate and attract business, it’s failing. It’s a poor region that’s been hit even harder by the depression. Or it could be that I just haven’t noticed, lol! The next town over where the nearest cinema is, is a different story. Posters galore there!

              • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:46 PM #

                Great then there is hope!!!!!!!! 🙂

              • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

                On HW Blvd. U think they would survive an ad pollution policy?

                • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

                  Wow that smog based grey haze never disappears

                  • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 9:05 PM #

                    Hey! That was a clear day. Hahaha!

                • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:07 PM #

                  Wow! That amount would definately be found in a city. As for my town, probably not. Some people here complain about the most idiotic things, that amount would definately get them complaining!

                  On a completely off topic subject, I need those road markings over here. It would help my Grandpa drive and stop various angry fights and screams of terror when we have to go into the nearest city. Thank God I can count the times we need to go there on one hand!

                  • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 9:10 PM #

                    Actually this is nothing compared to NY. But u rarely notice when your walking around. Love it!

                  • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

                    Love your stories Oz! Actually, I think CA has the best traffic signs in the US. I think New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania are horrible. U can’t make U-turns. I think that’s an abomination. Hahahaha!

                    • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

                      The closest we have to that is Piccadilly Square in London. I don’t think it’s as big as that or has that amount of advertising. It could be vastly different from what I remember (6+ since I visited London).

                      I would hate to be in the car if we were ever there. My Gran’s passenger side “driving” and my fightened screams, it would be hell, nevermind the nightmare it can be now!

  11. parisienne September 11, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

    Pretty much every disney movie poster has a hidden mickey. CR, great article! Why were posters not able to be preserved before the 1940’s.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

      Paris-Good Q. CR will be late.

      • Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

        Paris,

        Sorry I was not clearer about this. A movie poster would travel with the films, (from town to town). Being made out of paper they were not that durable. By the end of a film’s run most were beat up or badly damaged. The collectibles markets only started much later.

    • Open Book September 12, 2012 at 6:49 PM #

      Lol Oz!! Ur hilarious.

  12. Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:03 PM #

    In case your interested.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/170908529013

  13. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

    Hi all!!!!! Let me get caught up.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

      Hi CR!

  14. Comic Relief September 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

    Because I was slow to show up. I’m sorry now I have to leave. Thanks everyone for coming and making these comments. In part two I wan’t to spend more time talking about specific posters.

    • Open Book September 11, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

      Goodnight CR- No problem, great article and info!

  15. Open Book September 11, 2012 at 9:18 PM #

    Everyone! I have to go for the night.

    CR this was fun can’t wait for Part 2. MC4 I’m glad u could join us. Hope u join us again.

    TC!

    • ozzie20 September 11, 2012 at 9:43 PM #

      I better go too. I don’t want to as it’s been fun but my brain is going into read only time, lol! See you all later! 🙂

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