The Cute Factor
The Dreamworks marketing team successfully transformed Hop's title into a symbolic element. The egg-shape wordmark is cutesy-cartoony, and as an icon, it became instantly recognizable in theaters.
The fact that Jack Black's panda character Po takes the place of the title text Kung Fu Panda, really caught my eye. And I guarantee that it caught other parents off guard: balancing with one foot on the number two isn't as easy as it looks. I saw a half dozen kids mimicking this pose in a theater lobby.
Mel Gibson's The Beaver strikes many as being more creepy than cute. But, it has a puppet. And puppets are cute. So is the scrawled note in the foreground, which explains the movie's premise succinctly in this poster for the UK release.
Type as Scenery, Accessory
I give the Bad Teacher Sony Pictures kudos for taking this chalkboard approach, when they could've just made Cameron Diaz take up more of the composition, acting as the primary vehicle in the poster.
Like Bad Teacher, Danny McBride's Your Highness is raunchy in a funny way, and I adore the fact that the title works as the necklace. Thank goodness they didn't go with something like McBride blowing smoke letters to spell out Your Highness.
Nine strangers get trapped in an elevator. How do you sell it? A subtle composition with all typography. A little blood. Need we say more? No, we don't. In fact "Take The Stairs" ruins this. I'd take it a step further and produce a real button panel. Hang that on a wall, and people will notice. Sure, put blood on it too.
Make the Type Do the Heavy Lifting
Balancing Anna Faris atop a bunch of numbers in the shape of a heart? Risky. The starlet gets the smallest spot in the fancifully typographic layout, which literally lifts her off the ground.
The rock and roll wordmark designed for Hesher speaks volumes about this movie: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Hesher is an electrifying force to be reckoned with. I wonder if Lars Ulrich noticed how similar Hesher is to the Metallica wordmark. [http://www.metallica.com]
Before Rainn Wilson's Super debuted, these raw posters appeared in limited release. They're crude and sloppy looking, just like his character. But unlike most movie posters, this one is typographically unconventional.
How do you sum up Roger Corman's career in one image? Or rather, in one poster promoting a movie about his career? You set the headlines "Sex", "Violence", "Biker Chicks", and "Alien Abductions" in Futura Extra Bold Italic. That's how.
If there's one device that doesn't work for me anymore, it would be the old substitution game, especially using a number in place of a letter. Come on, Wes Craven. David Fincher already pulled this off in the 90s with Se7en.
Is that a rip in the title? It's hard to tell, mostly because it's also the negative space between Rift's I and F. If you want to tear the type, make it noticeable. Posters aren't the place for subtlety.
Let's make the stars real big and put headlines and titles right on top of them so people read both items at once. Functionally, this does the job the marketing department wants, but it's become overdone.
With the wealth of movies coming out each week, studios continue to rely on all kinds of marketing, point of purchase and point of sale tricks. Consider Thor's hammer sitting in front of a concession stand. Or the gigantic Optimus Prime greeting you in the theater lobby. Putting toys like Mjöllnir or Optimus Prime figurines in theaters may get the kids' attention, but I'll always be a sucker for posters, especially ones that are typographically strong.