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10 movie poster cliches (with plenty of examples)

Nov 9, 2011 By Abraham

If you’ve ever felt like movie posters are all the same, you now have proof that your hunch is right, thanks to these compilations by Christophe Courtois

(You can click on the images to enlarge them.)

1. Big heads in the sky over tiny people on a beach

2. From the back (often with weaponry)

3. Big text on faces

4. Back to back

5. In bed

6. Through the legs

7. Big eye

8. Blue

9. Running for their lives

10. Cute red dress


Update: Here are 5 more.


    1. Shelly says:

      This is all very interesting ! I think that they’ve realized what covers are the most eye catching and have reinvented the same outlines over the years.

  1. Nicole from MA says:

    This is great. Apparently, the cute red dress is incredibly popular and nothing screams “rom-com” more than two beautiful people standing back to back.

    But, Abraham, you’ve committed a classic blunder – nope, not a land war in Asia nor going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. You’ve written “you now have proof that you’re hunch is right”. You’re hunch? Oh dear…

    1. Sassy says:

      This is by far the best spelling correction I have ever read. Thanks for posting a reference that made me smile! :p

    1. Amanda B. says:

      As well as only women’s cute red dresses.

      (Seriously though, the legs thing is a good point. I just couldn’t resist.)

        1. Leiah says:

          Completely agreed on “Tootsie” — I was even looking for it. Maybe I’m just blind, but I don’t see the “Tootsie” movie cover pictured here… Can anyone else?

    2. gloomcookie613 says:

      Actually, the “Kinky Boots” cover is a guy wearing those boots. That’s the whole premise of the film. :) So at least ONE pair of NOT-woman legs in the boot category.

  2. Krista says:

    Is the cliche all that bad when it comes to movie posters? It tells you exactly what kind of movie you’re seeing, which is a good thing, right?

    1. Steve says:

      The cliche also is Hollywood’s way of saying, “we’ll keep spewing out the same stories over and over again, and you’ll keep making us wealthy over and over again. Why should we be bothered with coming up with anything new, when you keep eating the same drivel? THANKS!!”

          1. Carr says:

            Did you just invent “That’s what Steve said”? It doesn’t sound that fun, but it’s worth a shot I guess.

          2. Carr says:

            That’s what Steve said. (Darn thread ran out before I could properly execute my own setup. This is a reply to my other comment. *mischievous glare*)

  3. Keith says:

    I love that the Puss and Boots poster is an obvious nod to Unforgiven. Would have never realized it had it not been for that mosaic. Kinda cool.

  4. JK says:

    Thanks! Now I know!

    Shot from the back = like.
    Tiny beaches = avoid.

    Although, after surveying the posters again, I don’t think I’ve seen any of the tiny beaches movies. Maybe that’s how I knew to avoid them in the first place? Thank you, non-original movie poster designers.

  5. Sammy Davies says:

    Surly there have been enough films made to make a similar collage of anything you could think of? I’m not sure this proves they are a cliche….we must be able to find 50 films where the poster is…?….a baby crawling?!

  6. GV says:

    Also, for the ‘Running for their lives’ type- the posters all seem to have a blue-ish cast and sometimes big red typography.

  7. Alex says:

    Don’t forget comedies using white background with red text and close up of the actors. Just look at the DVD covers for Dinner for Schmucks, The Dilemma, Little Fockers, etc…

    I really hate when they photoshop all the cast into one poster. Really? The entire time you were filming the movie you couldn’t get the cast together for a promo photos? And yes, I realize when they film a movie the whole cast isn’t always on set, just the actors filming scenes that day.

  8. Frank says:

    Hey, we could take this joke one step further and have the next trend of posters be “People standing”. Seems way too vague and just an attempt to be cynical about movie advertising…I mean, “blue”? Come on now, that’s weak. Cracked has a delightful article that is…similar.

  9. Aidy P says:

    Woah. This must have taken some time to put together! Amazing. These could make for fascinating wallpaper of sorts. Maybe. Interesting article!

  10. Shelly says:

    …My copy of “V for Vendetta” doesn’t look like that. It would fall under “Big Heads in the Sky over Tiny People” LOL

  11. Steve says:

    Two people with red dresses standing back to back on a beach seen from behind through the legs of an unidentified figure, with a blue background and text slapped on top of that.

    Someone make that.

  12. Liam says:

    You can’t say blue is a cliche’, how else would you design a poster for a sea based movie without using blue.

  13. Mike says:

    Some of these are a tad unfair when you call them cliches. Some of the ones you mention were rather original when released (ie Unforgiven)

  14. garey abusey says:

    Very nice. The only one missing is the when the movie title is inside of a white block in the middle, characters at the top and a landscape/cityscape at the bottom

  15. SamIAm says:

    I love how you all call the covers cliche and shame them, but when was the last time you watched a movie with a unique story line. Almost any movie you watch has been done at least a million times in one way or another. Nothing is original anymore, so I think the covers are the least of concern.

    1. craymer says:

      Just because you fall for the the same movie over and over again, doesn’t mean that we all do. Watched Young Adult last night, name a couple of the million times that “movie has been done.”

  16. Gus says:

    The point is good. Whenever I watch a dvd at home and I’m in the mood for the 7 or 8 trailers, but then that low announcer voice dude comes in with; “In a place…” that automatically axes that trailer for me. The recurrence of that format ie the low ominous announcer voice and identical pacing between statements, is parallel to this page. Hollywood repeats itself at all levels. Massively.

  17. Ryan says:

    I think it should be noted that some of these posters may have been the first to use their trope, that some may have been using them in a tongue-in-cheek way, or as an homage, and that not all of these movies were made in hollywood.
    Also, the “Blue” one, that’s just stupid. That’s a color, you don’t get to say colors are cliches.

  18. Daniel McBane says:

    Not only do they keep reusing the same designs, they keep reusing them for the same genres as well. Back to back is for romantic comedies, between the legs for teen comedies, big heads in the sky for dramas and so on. I can’t believe I didn’t see the pattern until I read this post.

  19. Susan Goforth says:

    Back in the day of video stores I’d perused the aisles and lined up the video cases by the cover art style, just like this! It’s fun to see what style is chosen. A couple other very common cover genres are the 5-pack of faces and the shattered mirror or glass. This was really fun to look at. Loved the red dress category. Who knew there were so many!

  20. Carter says:

    Note that these are all contemporary movies; there was a greater variety in posters for classic films (take it from a collector of classic films).

  21. Leif Paulson says:

    These are great! I wonder how long this took to make? Pretty rad. Reminds me of the wall in the new Arclight theater by my house – they change the posters all the time.

  22. Alessandro says:

    You could add a touch of history by including Hitchcock’s “Saboteur” (1942) to “Run for their lives”. Probably the first of the series!

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