The Oscars are on Sunday, February 9! Here’s a great breakdown of the design of posters of some leading films. See also Film Fonts Friday 1; (Bond) Film Font Friday; Film Font Friday, Wes Anderson Edition; and Font Film Font Friday.
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With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon overpowering the box office, movie posters have had to adapt, with an emphasis on scalable design. Film studios are now tasked with the challenge of making sure that the actors are recognizable, that the type is readable and that, foremost, you’ll want to press play after a quick scan.
“Movie posters haven’t actually worked the way posters were originally intended to work in decades,” says DJ Stout of the design studio Pentagram. “The days when a man would see a poster on the street for the first time and then be convinced to see it in the theater has gone the way of the horse-drawn buggy.
“These days, the poster design establishes the look and feel of the film and provides the visual identity tools for the marketing and promotion of it.”
Movie posters also can be something you “buy and cherish after you’ve already fallen in love with the film,” says Marianne Seregi, design director at National Geographic magazine.
But a bad poster “can definitely make you not want to see a movie,” says Andrew Percival, director of Percival & Associates, an entertainment advertising agency. Typographer Craig Ward suggests that animation and augmented-reality technology could be next in movie-poster design.
For this award season, The Washington Post asked Stout, Seregi, Ward, Percival, along with illustrator Julia Rothman and creative director Allie Fisher to look at this year’s Oscar-nominated best-picture posters from a visual design perspective.
About this story
Illustration by Hanna Barczyk for The Washington Post; Poster credits: Ford v Ferrari: 20th Century Fox; The Irishman: Netflix; Jojo Rabbit: TSG Entertainment; Joker: Warner Bros. Pictures; Little Women: Sony Pictures; Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Sony Pictures; Marriage Story: Netflix; Parasite: Neon; 1917: Universal Studios; The Shining: Warner Bros. Pictures/Everett Collection; Butch Cassidy: Century Fox/Everett Collection; Le Mans: Everett Collection; Little Women: Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection; Goodfellas: Warner Bros. Pictures/Everett Collection; Lady Bird: A24/Everett Collection; The Goonies: Warner Bros. Pictures/Everett Collection