Producing movies, especially big ones, means huge business as what we have seen time and time again over the years and the recent success of record-breaking blockbusters like Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity Wars and Black Panther. The competition isn’t even limited to Hollywood’s best because even small, low-budget movies hits the big screen with satisfied moviegoers and goes on to also become humble sellouts in cinemas.
Elements of A Great Movie Poster
Today, billion-dollar revenue figures aren’t that surprising anymore in the movie industry, placing many major productions alongside billion-dollar business giants such as Facebook and Apple when it comes to making money. This tells us that with so much at stake on a movie’s success, marketing it through print ads such as posters and flyers, as well as online is a great opportunity for creative or graphic designers, with these elements in mind:
- Attention: It has to be the sort that jumps out from the wall, otherwise you may just as well leave it stale. One common and simple sales strategy that businesses banking on skills and performance should take to heart is the four-step formula known as AIDA (attention, interest, desire and action) which has been used as the foundation of movie advertising campaigns for years. Your poster needs to grab the attention of people passing by, drawing them in. You don’t have to use provocative images or graphics that are too loud and flashy to get this, although people seem to love them, causing good old Hollywood to turn to them en masse.
- Iconography: The most successful movie posters are iconic, offering themes of the film without really giving away anything much. Using imagery, whether it’s a close-up of the main character or an element in the major plot to establish the film’s story combined with a striking design, this can gain a great amount of attention and create an instant interest out of the audience to look closely and check the film’s information.
- Interest: Create an incentive, offer something for people to see the film, without being obvious, especially if no amount of abstract imagery works with the marketing the movie. For instance, if it’s a thriller or horror film that you can’t present through the use of imagery, using a single enlarged image with an idea of the plot would be a brilliant idea. Many of today’s film posters use photos which puts the audience in a scene of the film, creating excitement, tension and a great incentive to make them want to see it to find out what happens.
- Appeal: Your poster should speak to fans and non-fans alike. With the pace to which film studios rake in millions out of comic book adaptations ironically turning villains the likes of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki into cult heroes, it’s the die-hard, “true fans” that end up at the bottom of the marketing ladder. Remember that they’re the ones you can rely on regardless of reviews of the next installment, the amount and quality of promotional materials and events since they’re already a fairy strong following, aware of what the studio can offer. Well-thought posters use this dual appeal to their advantage, creating a balance which works for them every time, particularly for movie adaptations.
10+ Movie Poster Templates
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Sample Film Poster
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Film Poster Template
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Free Movie Poster Design
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Steps To Design An Excellent Movie Poster
The movie industry is heavy with poster pop art on top of everyone having access to professionally-taken images and design or graphics software, but you’d be amazed how even the most established production companies could also deliver posters with terrible artwork and design. So bad that even distributors take it upon themselves to throw these posters away and create their own from scratch. Try to follow these steps as a guide to having a poster that works:
- Don’t skip the process: A poster campaign especially for movies already starts roughly a year and a half before the movie is released at the production’s script approval stage. During this period, there would be a number of artists who needs to create a series of posters which would develop and be more specific as time passes. After launching, there would typically be further designs to accommodate the DVD release of the film as well as some “payoff” poster when the success warrants it.
- Work fast: Designing a movie poster requires a great amount of patience and commitment on top of creative skills as you will be thrown into a crazy, demanding schedule. A regular graphic artist might only be able to produce and submit two projects a week, however, they would each be on three separate projects a day where you start on one design at the beginning of the day, eat lunch at your desk and start another and then another at the end of the day which would probably be around 9:00 in the evening.
- Communicate fast: A poster is your visual equivalent of a sales pitch. You have about 2 seconds to bring the message of the movie to passers-by and you’d be competing being seen with about 50 other movie posters. Because of this, the director would often be the last person to get feedback from when it comes to the design. Directors know the movie at the back of their hands and would often want to include everything when all you need is an icon to get a great design from people who would see it.
- Design for different formats: Movie posters design don’t just get used for posters alone because the same imagery, the same elements should be reusable for a wide range of media from billboards to DVD covers, even extending to book covers for movie adaptations of books. You may have a design worthy of the most iconic posters in Hollywood history but if you can’t format it, it goes in the trash.
Tips In Designing a Movie Poster
Taking the time to design and working with the people who understand the principles required for a movie poster is a good first step in your overall branding strategy. Here are two important tips to help you further:
- Avoid too many colors: Most posters, and any print promotional materials for that matter works best when they’re subtle and understated but not lacking in visual appeal. Less is always more. Too cliche, but it still works. Bank on a few colors to create a bold, striking and intriguing image.
- A poster is a sales tool, not fine art: The goal of a movie poster is to guide the audience towards the film’s main plot, leaving them craving for more. It’s a selling tool. It has to be designed with the creative elements necessary to make it appealing but it isn’t necessarily a an art piece. Put it this way. You may have a breathtaking, beautiful abstract design but if they fail to communicate to moviegoers, it’s basically useless.
Types of Movie Posters
If you’re a movie fan, you may have noticed that poster concepts of movies past are making quite a comeback and you might want to draw inspiration from them:
- Glossy Composite Movie Posters: This was a widely popular choice for film artwork in the 80’s with Drew Sturzan being behind the design of over 150 movie posters, including all of the films in the Indiana Jones series , Back to the Future, and Star Wars film series. You don’t need much engagement with the movie’s theme when you can have the well-known face of Hollywood royalty printed on the poster.
- Double-Sided Movie Posters: Popular in the 1950’s, double-sided posters have the same artwork on the front and back. The artwork on the back is reversed and produced in a lighter shade. Double-sided movie posters are normally printed on a slightly thicker paper than single-sided movie posters.
- Main/Final Poster: A main or final movie poster is the last poster created for a film. It ideally includes more information than your advance movie poster. Indicate names of the actors, the movie’s tagline, production crew and the distributors’ information. Sometimes more than one style of a main or final poster is produced, however this is very much dependent upon the movie’s title and budget.
Movie Poster Sizes
Movie posters come in these standard sizes:
- One sheet, 27 x 41″, portrait format.
- Display (aka half-sheet), 22 x 28″ landscape format.
- Insert, size 14 x 36″ portrait format.
Movie Poster FAQs
What is the purpose of a movie poster?
The main purpose of any retro film poster is to advertise and inform the audience of an upcoming film; through important information such as release date, actors and audience suitability.
What is the main challenge in designing a poster for film?
The challenge is to design a poster that has the right balance, which conveys the movie’s theme.
Visuals represents the movie you want to promote and should be compelling for potential viewers to influence their decisions and to create a good first impression. Currently, poster designs are getting more computer-generated, focusing on the imagery rather than the text, with actual photos used instead of illustrations which means designers’ hands are free from the restrictions of just the drawing board.