Wednesday, August 27, 2008

10 Movie Posters That Completely Co-opt Others Original Designs


This is a sequel of sorts to a post I did earlier this year (10 Of The Most Misleading and Mis-representing Movie Posters Ever!) with one of the same posters mentioned and the same theme of mis-marketing dominating.

Recently the publicity for the new pop-doc AMERICAN TEEN included a poster that directly recreates the iconic poster image for the classic 80s teen angst flick THE BREAKFAST CLUB. The similarity was so blatant that it made many folks (including me) think it was a retitled remake:


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You see? To be fair AMERICAN TEEN has another poster design out there that’s more original, but the one above is still too close for comfort. This is a pretty common device that calls for another patented Film Babble Blog list: 


10 Movie Posters That Completely Co-opt Other Poster’s Original Designs
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1. THE BIG ONE appropriates MEN IN BLACK and suffers legal action for it - That’s right the image for Michael Moore’s self indulgent book tour doc was ruled too similar to the design for the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones sci-fi vehicle so a judge ruled that Miramax had to remove the posters from distribution. The taglines: “Protecting the Earth from scum of the universe” from MEN IN BLACK and “Protecting the Earth from the scum of corporate America” from THE BIG ONE would probably be dismissed by most of us as parody not copyright infringement but Columbia Pictures’ lawyers thought differently.

2. FLETCH LIVES for some reason regurgitates GONE WITH THE WIND - This lackluster sequel did itself no favors by placing Chevy Chase’s Irwin M. Fletcher character into the framework of one of the most famous films of all time. Not sure the thinking here, did they really think it was a good idea to equate the camera-mugging wise-ass with a suave Rhett Butler in the thralls of a tragic romance while Atlanta burns? I suppose the GONE WITH THE WIND design is just a device for selling the
--> -->Fletch inherits a Southern Plantation’ premise and I should cut them some slack for trying to wrap a failed follow-up in something resembling a classy package.

3. WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? macks on the art for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - Meticulously copying the entire design right down to the typefaces and every detail of the amazing Amsel painting done for the 1982 re-release of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Morgan Spurlock’s much lambasted quasi-poli-doc tries to align itself with the same globe trotting heroic splendor of the Spielberg classic but just ends up looking desperate. I haven’t seen WHERE IN THE WORLD... but not being a fan of SUPER SIZE ME or Spurlock’s television work makes me ambivalent at best to it with this uninspired poster design putting me off even further.

4. THIS IS SPINAL TAP jumps on the back of AIRPLANE! - This one I wrote about before in the Most Mis-leading Movie Posters post mentioned above, noting that director Rob Reiner remarked: “They marketed it with a guitar flying in the air with a twisted neck which looked like the poster for AIRPLANE! It looked like it was trading on another film.” There were many more comedies that were marketed with crazy flying in the air’ imagery - the Zucker Bros. own NAKED GUN movies kept the concept alive for another decade after SPINAL TAP.

5. PROBLEM CHILD crassly copies PARENTHOOD - A mere months after Ron Howard’s family comedy was a hit came this tasteless anti-family comedy with a poster design that mocks the former’s switching the roles and supposedely doubling the laughs. Not a bad advertising approach mind you, I'm sure many rented one after glancing at the video box thinking it was the other.

6. DEAD HEAT duplicates GOODFELLAS - This one is really annoying. Same dark design with 3 protagonists posing above a street scene and the same typeface shows a complete creative bankruptcy on the side of the promotional department.

The utterly forgettable Keifer Sutherland crime thriller that somebody on the IMDb message board called “SEABISCUIT meets GOODFELLAS could not come close to competing with Scorsese’s masterpiece so seeing them try is painful.

7. ROCK ‘N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL re-amps NATIONAL LAMPOONS ANIMAL HOUSE - Lots of crude sloppy comedies have likewise Mad Magazine derived designs but the folks behind marketing the Ramones’ film debut didn’t look very far for an angle here - they just went with what worked for the previous years teen gross-out blockbuster. Squint and you’d think you’re seeing the same picture (especially with the tiny examples I’ve provided here).

8. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY redoes ANNIE HALL (as does the movie) and begat a flood of rom com movie marketing - A couple in a hesitant yet sexually tense moment always makes for a good poster picture for a romantic comedy,
right? Well just add a city skyline (most often New York, duh!) underneath and now you’re talking. Dozens upon dozens of recent rom coms have used this type imagery including SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, TWO WEEKS NOTICE, MAID IN MANHATTAN, ALEX & EMMA (also Rob Reiner), etc. Oh yeah, the Dudley Moore / Mary Steenburgen movie actually named ROMANTIC COMEDY had a similar image too.

9. CLOVERFIELD marks on THE DAY AFTER TOMORROWs territory - The Statue Of Liberty gets a lot of abuse in the world of movie posters. In CLOVERFIELD its head gets blown off (same thing is shown
on ESCAPE FROM NEW YORKs poster incidentely) and a long shot view shows us a stormy New York in turmoil. Looks a lot like the same painting style and tone used in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROWs the Statue Of Liberty under ice image. The poster for the upcoming sludge through bad pop culture spoofs DISASTER MOVIE features our long suffering statue getting drowned in a tidal wave. Hard job it is being a giant symbol of freedom I guess.

10. TRANSFORMERS apes PLANET OF THE APES - Why would anybody want to recall the roundly rejected Tim Burton remake of the Charleton Heston “damn dirty ape” classic with a poster image that looks nearly identical? It seemed like TRANSFORMERS would’ve had its own shiny take on the aesthetics and wouldn’t have to stoop to this so was it unfortunately unintentional? Did somebody think the look and angle of the Ape design was cool and thought it was either forgotten or needed to be re-done and re-purposed? Whatever the deal, I can still barely tell them apart.

Okay! Now, I know there are lots of movie posters that have co-opted the designs of others that I missed so feel free to comment away.

More later...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

have you seen the dvd cases for tailor of panama and the remake of the thomas crown affair? it's like pierce co-opting pierce.

rani said...

interesting post. I'm surprised.

Fletch said...

How dare you. It's Irwin M. Fletcher.

Enjoyed the post. I was pissed at Harry/Sally when I finally watched Annie Hall a couple years ago. As you note, they copped a whole lot more than the poster; looking back, I'm surprised it wasn't given more shit for being such a copy.

Never thought about the Transformers/Apes similarities. You'd think they would have avoided that one...

Dan said...

Oops - sorry about that Fletch! I fixed it.

darkcitydame4e said...

Hi! Daniel,
Very nice comparison of movie posters!...I know this is "stretching" it a "bit," but "The Musical Evil Dead" is almost "notorious" for "spoofing'
musical posters such as "Hair Spray," "Mamma Mia," and Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables."

OKonheim said...

wow how much research did that take?

Anil Usumezbas said...

Great post.

Posting over posters seems to be a new trend in the blogosphere (and judging by that sentence, cheap tricks with words is another)

fandangogroovers said...

I think you are a bit harsh on American Teen. I think the poster is a work of genius. As the film set out to tell the story of five character who loosely conform to the stereotypes of the characters from The Breakfast Club mimicking their poster was brilliant. Having said that, if you want to criticise the film go ahead as it wasn’t very good!