My Kid Could’ve Drawn That Movie Poster: A Disturbing Hollywood Trend

There often seems to be trends in movie posters. Look up the posters for License To Wed, American Pie, The Nutty Professor II, Love Stinks, and Date Movie (which I think is spoofing said trend) and you’ll see they all have bold red type set against a white background, with the characters more or less standing in a line. Look at action movie posters like the Bourne films and Live Free and Die Hard and you’ll see the protagonist with a motivated look on his face (bruises and scrapes optional) with a blurred background surrounding him. These trends are evident.*

Two films are starting a new trend in Hollywood: stick figues. The poster for the new Katherine Heigl/Gerard Butler romantic comedy The Ugly Truth has the male and female bathroom symbols–she has a heart in her head, he has a heart on his crotch. The film has Heigl playing a producer who has to deal with a cocky co-worker played by Butler as the two engage in debate over his “sexist theories.” The male-female symbol is a little cliche, but spicing it up with the location of each characters’s heart is both singularly clever and annoying.

Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks have also been stickified in the movie poster for Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The Weinstein Company released a poster proclaiming “Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so titillating that we can only show you this drawing.” The poster is a clever attempt to play down the fact that this movie is about porn. Ball-draining porn. I will say that the likeness of Seth Rogen is actually quite realistic, too.

So what do you think? Is this a new Hollywood trend, selling us simplicity instead of filling our vision with subtle messages and overwrought poster design? Or is it just a coincidence that these two movies came out with posters that my kid could draw.** And because I love lists, here’s 5 movie posters that my kid could draw, if my kid were a marketing genius.

1. Stalag-17

It’s a light bulb! That’s it.

2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Not the ones that featured Jason Segel and Mila Kunis, I mean the ones that simply proclaimed “You DO Look Fat in Those Jeans, Sarah Marshall,” “My Mom Always Hated You, Sarah Marshall” or this.

3. Burn After Reading

It’s mostly just the names of the stars and a guy looking through binoculars only to see a hand pointing a gun back in his direction. Simple, yet effective. Very inspired by number 5 on this list.

4. Cloverfield

Remember the poster that just said “1-18-08“? Isn’t it ridiculous, in hindsight, that a poster sporting only the film’s release date got us so jacked? Granted we had the teaser trailer that came with Transformers, but still, someone pulled something over on us…I’m just glad the marketers used their power of persuasion for good (debatable).

5. Anatomy of a Murder and Vertigo

Both opted not to show Jimmy Stewart’s face. Both are amazing. This simplistic, yet ingenious style was created by artist Saul Bass, who in addition to making movie posters also created the well-known logos for AT&T and United Airlines.

* My favorite posters in the ’90s were the “Action Star Looking Straight Into the Camera” trend that inluded Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Speed, and Point Break. These posters are the reason why nobody is intimidated by Keanu Reeves or John Travolta.

** I don’t actually have a kid. If I did, I wouldn’t let him draw, because he’d end up drawing this.

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