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What Makes a Bad Movie Poster: Examples from 2011

Updated on September 6, 2013
Friends with Benefits poster
Friends with Benefits poster

Friends with Benefits - 2011

I'm going to cut the poster designers a little slack here because they did another teaser poster that was everything that a poster for this film needs to be: raunchy, risque, yet tasteful. In that poster, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are standing next to each other. Timberlake is pointing. Kunis has her fingers formed in a circle (the "a-ok" sign). The combination is the universal hand signal for nookie. It's really perfect.

What's this movie poster doing? The answer is nothing. Two beautiful people on a couch, holding beers, with what look to be diapers between them (they're obviously not, but that's what it looks like to me)? And actually your eye is drawn into the middle of the poster, out the window behind them, where there are, get this, leaves!

If I'm a producer on this film, I'm very aware that this film could bomb. I have two attractive stars who are supposedly having sex in the film. This poster should be filled with innuendo. It's got nothing. It's so boring. And if that's any indication of what the film is like, I wouldn't go see it.

Skateland poster
Skateland poster

Skateland - 2010

The only thing I get from looking at this poster is that it takes place in Texas.

For a film that obviously needs help grabbing an audience, this poster does absolutely nothing to advance that cause. I guess we also know that it's about four people. However, the film takes place in the early 1980's and has to do with a 19-year-old skating rink manager. I just get nothing from this poster. The four actors are unfamiliar, so plastering their faces on the poster doesn't seem useful.

I suppose the one interesting element of the poster is that it appears cut in half and then pasted back together, but I'm not sure that tells us anything. Certainly nothing I'm willing to try to figure out. Anyway, if the purpose of a poster is to get a person to come see the film, this doesn't do it.

Something Borrowed poster
Something Borrowed poster

Something Borrowed - 2011

What I get from the poster is that this is a puzzle featuring four people who are having difficulty definining their relationship(s). The poster looks like one of those puzzles where you slide the pieces around until the image emerges. Unfortunately, there's clearly no solution to this puzzle. And frankly, when I look at a movie poster, I don't want to figure out the solution to the puzzle unless the question is really interesting and there doesn't appear to be a question here.

The poster suggests a lack of resolution, which is about the last message you want to convey with any movie.

Tree of life poster
Tree of life poster

The Tree of Life - 2011

This poster gives me a headache just looking at it.

That being said, I could see where somebody might like this poster. It's colorful and all. Not being a huge Terrance Malick fan, the apparent complexity of the poster does not make me want to go see the film. I mean, why does the poster display the number of images it does in the size it does?

I have written about the brilliance of the poster for "The Truman Show" and I suppose one could make some comparisons between that poster and this one, but I don't think the images in the former were meant to be examined quite as much as the ones in this poster. And that seems far too time consuming to me.

Do these images add up to something? Perhaps that's the question the movie is asking. That being said, in a movie called "The Tree of Life" there seem like a lot of other concepts that would work better in a poster. That's my main complaint. "The Tree of Life" should really inspire a design.

Larry Crowne poster
Larry Crowne poster

Larry Crowne - 2011

No poster in this article makes me want to see a movie less than the one for "Larry Crowne".

Is that the laziest movie poster you've ever seen?

And I get it. You have two stars with the draw of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, you probably better have them on your poster. I totally get that.

But it's like the craft service guy took the photo with his digital camera by accident. For god's sake, they're standing in front of shutters. This whole poster screams BORING louder than a picture of an empty room.

And that leather coat makes Hanks look like he weighs about 300lbs.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Josh 6 years ago

    I disagree that Tree of Life is the worst poster. I think it is fine for what it is: Take a look again and let me know what you think.

  • Ancillotti profile image

    Ancillotti 6 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

    Tree of Life is without doubt the worst poster! His analysis is always useful and excellent reliability. Thanks for sharing them with us. Cheers!

  • CyclingFitness profile image

    Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

    Larry Crowne does nothing for me. Something borrowed isn't so bad in my opinion and realistically you would have expected to see Mila Kunis wearing much less for a poster to advertise Friendsa With Benefits or at least something remotely adult themed.

    Nice hub chap

  • J.S.Matthew profile image

    JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Interesting take on movie posters! I never thought about it.


  • myi4u profile image

    myi4u 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    Agreed and 'Friends with Benefits' and 'Larry Crowne' are the worst. If you didn't put the year beside the movie titles, I would have thought they were 1980's posters!