Judging a Film by it's cover (Literally)

This thread is for research purposes.

How important is the cover or poster of a movie?

Have you ever decided not to watch or buy a film because of the cover, or subconsciously influenced because of a bad cover?

Do you think it plays an important role in selling an indie film?

What's the best or worst cover you've ever seen?
How important is the cover or poster of a movie?

Very. First impressions count, and the poster/cover is usually the first impression.

I do remember when I was younger, I'd look at a movie and be looking for reasons to go watch a movie. Meaning, if the poster, review, description had an element that I was interested in, I'd go and see that movie.

Now I'm a little older, I look more for things that cause me to say no, I'm not watching this movie. Eg. common elements of a bad movie. It could also be that we're in different times. I'm finding that there are more movies now than ever before. Filtering down the movies to what I'd enjoy is what I do.

Have you ever decided not to watch or buy a film because of the cover, or subconsciously influenced because of a bad cover?

See above. A bad cover is usually the first impression of a bad movie. There are so many elements that go into a good movie. Bad sound, bad acting, bad story, bad pacing, boring characters, bad presentation, bad lighting and so on. They are all just elements that all go together to make a great movie. The cover is usually one of the elements that people polish up so much (and the trailer). It's really rare to find a bad cover and a great movie. So yes. If I see a bad cover, I'll wait for a great review from a source that I trust or I just don't see the movie.

Do you think it plays an important role in selling an indie film?

Yes. Just plain and simply yes. The cover defines the market it is aimed for.
People usually shut videos off within a few seconds. People usually judge books by their covers. Grab their attention and be better than the rest. Study successful movie covers, copy their best elements, and be better than all the other filmmakers. Same goes with trailers. A trailer is not a chance to be creative, it is a chance to advertise and grab attention. I was reading an article by a guy who makes trailers for Lions Gate. He said to watch 100 trailers similar to your film, and take their best elements, then watch 100 terrible trailers of the genre of film you are making, and avoid the things they did wrong. You want to be easy to look at, unique, attention grabbing, and that one film everyone grabs off of the shelf.
what are some common elements of a bad poster?

Previously mentioned stuff is a lot of it.

There are more subtle errors to posters. Like using a design from the wrong genre. IE an action movie using a design from a horror movie, horror using a cartoon design, drama using a comedy design and so on. If the marketing is unable to identify the target audience, can you really trust a movie to execute well?

Spelling errors are a big giveaway.

Using caps instead of properly taken pictures.

Incorrect use of space and colors.

Too crowded.

Not crowded enough.

and the biggest three giveaways:

Misquoted famous lines. "In Space, no one screams"
Useless awards. "3rd place award in a one legged race"
Useless quotes of claims, "The best film since Jaws, Ron, Manager McDonalds NY"

I went to look at google and came across this poster from http://screenrant.com/best-worst-posters-2012/. They called it one of the worst posters of 2012. It's a horror flick with lots of blood and nudity. While it doesn't appeal to me on a personal level, I think it's an example of a very good poster. It also shows that the appeal of a poster is a matter of opinion.

Bad poster Examples:

Wrong Genre example:



On a side note, came across this:

25 Posters That Would Have Tricked Us Into Seeing Bad Movies

Kind of makes me want to watch this one again ;)

I can't think of a time where the poster has actively stopped me from watching a movie that I'd already planned to see. It's more often the opposite; a good poster (or DVD cover) drags me in to watching a film I've never even heard of.

Thinking back though, there's also been lots of times when a very uninspired poster has still got me watching the movie. I hadn't heard of Scream until I saw the video in a shop. The cover wasn't anything special, but I still picked it up. It went on to become my favourite film at the time!
I searched the site for Corky Romano and this was the only post that came up.

I kinda want to see it but its FOUR DOLLARS.. for CORKY ROMANO 😄 😄 😄
It's under 5 stars at IMDB I don't think I can pay for a movie this fucking stupid.

Any thoughts?

edit: it was for sale on prime week, figure its worth the two fifty and it was.
it was stupid and funny, exactly what i was in the mood for.
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Just looked at several lists of best movie posters. Interesting that there is very little consensus; everyone seems to have their own list. It seems to be a matter of taste--a great photo of an actor, a cool pulpy image, whatever. And also, I suppose, how good the movie was. But virtually all of them are great. I suppose the worst ones are ones that are simply boring. Anyway, it's an interesting art form, and, sure, some have been so good they have a place in our collective consciousness. Like, of course:


This one might be false advertising, if you compare this Kong to the one that was in the movie :)


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Just thought of this one. Like the shark, an image that sticks--a leg in the foreground, and Ben in the back:


There's this great documentary, Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, that movie people should really see. It is sweet and engaging. In it, we learn the story behind this leg. Harold Michelson was a storyboard artist, and his wife Lillian, a research librarian (the cinema research librarian), and together they were legendary.

Anyway, the image, that became the icon for the movie, originated here, with Harold, and nowhere else:



Mrs. Robinson you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?
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