Grading the movie posters

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Do you make a mental note, "Yeah, I’ve got to see that!" when you first lay eyes on a billboard for a new movie? No? Oh. I would think that’s the intended purpose of movie posters. You know, publicizing, promoting, giving a hint about the genre, evoking fear, depicting humanity, causing smiles or winks of romance — there has to be a reason the studios and distributors go through all the bother, right?

It’s fun to try to figure out what the movie marketing types are selling. With that in mind, I’m taking a look at a few new posters that have just been released. No, unfortunately, none are lesbian films … sigh … but I’m including the few that have women of interest in the cast. But be forewarned: I can’t help looking for lesbian subtext in these things! Hmm, maybe it’s the titles that do it?

Battle in Seattle

Now, this movie poster tells me one very important thing: There’s not a damn thing funny about this movie! This poster screams serious drama, doesn’t it? It also seems to be screaming Charlize Theron is hot even when she looks like your next-door neighbor! Fine, maybe it’s just me that heard that scream.

Admittedly, when I first read the title I really wanted this movie to be a romantic comedy. I dreamed of an adorably contrived little battle between two lesbians from Seattle. One, a cute barista in a café that serves Seattle’s Best coffee, versus another barista that serves Starbucks. The two press and pull and pour themselves into finding true love through lattes and the perfect espresso.

But alas, the film is actually about the frightening riot that occurred in Seattle in 1999 during the World Trade Organization meetings. The movie has a pretty interesting cast, including Michelle Rodriguez, Connie Nielson and Theron as the female leads. Considering the subject matter, this movie poster works really well for me. I think the poster is actually quite compelling. The film is due out in September 2008.

Then She Found Me

I blogged about this film a few weeks ago, but at the time the poster had yet to be released. Then She Found Me has the perfect women-who-dig-women title, though, doesn’t it? Well, the poster doesn’t help to clear up my lesbian sensibilities and suspicions, so I’m not sure how effective this poster actually is.

The tagline, "A thoroughly modern woman in a thoroughly modern crisis," gives a sistah girl some hope! It doesn’t really tell me this film is a comedy-drama-romance about adoption, birth mothers and daughters, or about a pregnancy of a woman who is choosing between two men.

Obviously, the marketing folks didn’t want to give too much away. But good thing a website like AfterEllen.com exists so that it can clear up the confusion. Otherwise, with marketing like this, I think a few of us might buy tickets to this thinking we’re going to be seeing a new independent lesbian film staring Helen Hunt and Bette Midler. Heh. The movie opens April 25 in a limited release.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

OK, this poster is just plain boring. Someone needs to lose his/her job over this. Come on, who couldn’t come up with this idea? This poster basically says: "Look, everybody! Somehow we suckered the entire original cast of young women into a contract for a sequel even though two of them are kicking ass on their own TV shows now and are probably really sorry that they signed on to this project!"

What? Am I the only one that read between the lines of this poster? Fine, maybe I need new glasses.

Seriously, was any ounce of original thought given to this poster? I do understand that selling the fact that these four hot TV stars, Blake Lively (Gossip Girl), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia) are back for the movie sequel — hopefully bringing with them their TV fan base — was the point of the marketing, but a poster with all of them bunched up together takes the imagination of a gnat. Compare the new poster to this old one from the original movie:

Now, that’s an intriguing movie poster! Looking at the new one all I see is Betty Suarez, Serena van der Woodsen, Rory Gilmore and little Joan who lives in Arcadia. Frankly, I can’t wrap my head around Betty, Serena, Rory or Joan ever being friends, but apparently that’s exactly what the marketing department wants us to know about this film. Sort of dull. I do hope the movie is more interesting than the poster. The new Sisterhood film is due for release August 8.

Of course, movie posters good or bad do not stand in my way of seeing a film that I’m interested in seeing based on content, star power or word of mouth. But when I’m on the fence, I do think how the film is marketed plays a part in my decision-making. Does this type of marketing matter to you or not?

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