Using The Croods to Explore Necessary Changes In Key Art

Marketing and promotional art is a key piece of the entertainment puzzle and has been a feature of the promotion business since long before film. Film posters are an art in and of themselves, but as Bill Cunningham points out in a guest post over at Truly Free Film, they haven’t kept up with the times.

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When Art, Pop Culture and Copyright Collide

Art, pop culture and copyright are three things I have an interest in, and when they all collide, we get awesome things like this piece by Aled Lewis which is currently for sale on Gallery 1988’s website.

The Top 10 Animated Film-Related Posters on

Today, just for fun, I thought I would take a look and see what the top 10 best selling posters are for animated films as told by Unfortunately I can’t get a timeframe on these, so I’m assuming it’s over at least the last 6 months but is probably longer.

In compiling this list, I only included anything over c. 22″ x 34″, in other words, the size you see at the cinema. (Clicking on the image will take you to the relevant page).

1. Cars

2. Despicable Me

3. Toy Story 3

4. Tangled

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

6. Toy Story 3 (again)

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas

8. The Princess and the Frog

9. Cars (again)

10. Avatar

Because I was Galavanting Around New York Yesterday

And because I can’t write about what I wanted to write about for various reasons, here’s a picture of the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival poster.

Deadpan humour at its best.

If The Poster is Overwrought, What Chance Does the Film Have?

 Via: Movie Fanatic


Apologies for the screaming.

While I’m aware that this is more of a teaser poster than anything else, it does seem to be beating its breast a bit. This doesn’t concern me so much as why it’s doing so this early in the game. Most teaser posters are much more sublime and only really hint at what the audience can expect. This goes full bore and leaves relatively little to the imagination.

It’s slightly disconcerting to know that the studio feels the need to put this much information on a poster that should show a lot less (yes, the earlier ones did show a lot less, I’m aware of that). It’s a sure sign that a film is overwrought/overproduced if ever there was one.

The creepy looking characters don’t help matters either.

For putting you through that, here’s the teaser poster for Luc Besson’s upcoming feature A Monster in Paris. Much nicer don’t you think?


One Look At These Posters And You’ll Visit Film On Paper Too

If you’re not even a wee bit jealous of Eddie Shannon, then you’re clearly not into movie posters.

Film on Paper is his website where he is archiving his entire collection (literally thousands) and it is by far the most fascinating that I have come across. Filled with rare and foreign versions, the site includes a couple of animation ones, nice ones in fact. His ones for The Incredibles are unreleased, which makes them even more awesome (check out the one below if you don’t believe me).

Is this not the most badass poster you've seen for this film?

You could spend literally hours on the site and I absolutely recommend that you do. Movie posters are a fascinating artform in and of themselves and its nice to see them get some love from a devoted collector.

The Maryland Film Fest, Cars 2 Posters & Michael Sporn on the ASIFA-East Festival

MD Film Fest

Last night was a lot of fun down at the Charles Theater in Baltimore. The screening was packed and there was lots of top quality animation to be seen along with plenty of laughs and applause.

The shorts will be screened again on Sunday evening at 5pm in case you missed them.

Cars 2 Posters


As much as I have already discussed the ones created by Eric Tan, the latest batch (such as above) truly boggle the mind. For one of the top creative companies on the planet to turn out/approve such banal works is most disappointing. Especially when the concern things like cars, objects elevated to the status of art a long time ago.

Besides that, the ‘puns’ for titles make for almost gut-wrenching reading. They are neither funny nor appropriate.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’d say we’re headed for Pixar’s first major misstep. You heard it here first.

Michael Sporn on the ASIFA-East Festival

Last week the ASIFA-East Festival took place in New York. I wasn’t there for personal reasons but I read about the winners the following day. Seeing as I had a final exam on Tuesday, I congratulated a few winners and carried on with my life.

However, it seems that a heated discussion blew up on Cartoon Brew after the list of winners were posted. Sometimes negativity can cloud the debate and spoil it for everyone. Which is exactly what happened here.

Michael Sporn has posted a sage response on his blog that is the best I’ve read. If you are in doubt about the society or its voting procedures, you should read it. I’m glad I read it first before the Brew comments.


Has Pixar Jumped The Shark With The Posters For Cars 2?

Via: The Animation Blog

Some say the bigger question is whether Pixar will jump the shark with Cars 2 itself, but it is still too early to tell. However, when it comes to the promotional posters, I think they’ve already done it.

The reason is simple, the posters are rather lackluster in overall design. Don’t get me wrong, they look nice, but if you’re going to ape classic Grand Prix posters, you might as well do it right.

As far as I know, Cars 2 involves a world-wide race of some sort, so it would seem like a great idea to release a few posters featuring the characters in famous cities around the world, right? Yes, of course. Pixar has been here before with the Wall-E and UP teaser posters (created by Eric Tan) that it released before those films hit the cinemas. Personally, I think they’re a great idea to drum up support from the fans and to promote the film in a slightly different and off-beat manner.

So far they has succeeded. The posters for Wall-E had a kind of quirky, Googie-like charm to them and the UP posters relied heavily on the old travel ads of the past to make light of the film’s plot.

However, when it comes to Cars 2, I think they’ve missed the mark only slightly. The main elements are certainly there. The car at the forefront, the background definitely waaay in the back. There’s no chance of mistaking where the action is or what is going on.

The main problem that I can see, though, is the character themselves. It’s just them! Sure there are a few cars in the background racing along, but for the most part, it is just a single character with a few speed lines drawn in to show that they are supposed to be moving.

How does that compare with a real Grand Prix poster? Check out the samples below.

Via: Wikipedia


A race to the finish line? A duel to the death? I certainly think so. There is so much more action portrayed, so much more excitement! I want to see that Grand Prix! Just be thankful I can’t find the poster where the car literally has flames coming out the back of it!

So you see why I think the Cars 2 posters are a bit tame. They allude to the great posters of the past, but they are, at best, a timid recreation with none of the excitement and drama of the real thing. Cars 2, by the sounds of things, could certainly have benefited from a harder edge but perhaps that was vetoed by someone along the line.

So how far off are they? Check out this poster for the antique Monaco Grand Prix held last year. A thoroughly modern poster but with all the classic elements of the genuine article. It can be done.

A Critique of the Tangled One-Sheet Poster

If it seems that I’ve been posting about this film for the last three months, you’re right, I have. Today’s topic is the film’s one-sheet poster. We’re all familiar with one-sheets, they’re the poster’s you see at the cinema then buy for a relative fortune after the fact (but seriously if anyone out there would like to hook me up with some posters that are, um, passed their sell-by date, let me know).

The subject today is the latest (although probably not final) one for Tangled and I fell it’s worthy of a good critique. It is shown below for your convenience (cheers, /film).

Feel free to study it for a minute and come to a few of your own conclusions before continuing. Not being an art critic what you read below is pretty much the way I see it and I don’t want you to feel lost in any way.

Let’s start with the setting. It appears that they’re standing on the edge of a forest of some kind. The leaves/branches on top seem to set a slightly dark undertone for the film that you will already be aware of if you watched the trailers.

The background is, for want of a better word, wanting. We can see the tower on the right but it seems to bee set in some sort of quarry or canyon. Although this choice is well outside the poster designer’s grasp, its position suggests that the characters have their backs up against the metaphorical wall. The fact that they’re all ready to fight only reinforces this.

I cannot decipher a lot of detail in the background because the image file I have isn’t large enough but glimpses of the complexity of the animation can be seen in the detailing on the tower and the garden below it. It would be nice if this was more at the forefront of the poster to emphasise the artistic merit of the film but there’s a chance there’s another poster on the way which may or may not address this.

I suppose one of the nice things about CGI films is that their physical promotional material uses the actual animation as the source rather than relying on a separate set of artists and painters for the artwork. It keeps everything consistent for the sake of the public.

Moving onto the horse. He’s looking at the right rather than straight ahead like the other two. Why would he do that? Is he not focused on the terror in front of him like the others? I suppose not. He is also notable for being the only one of the trio to be holding an actual weapon. Comic relief aside he would seem to either be on a more perilous quest or, as I believe, is protecting the other two from a menace that they are oblivious to. He’s also snarling as if he’s been betrayed in some way. The horse might know something the other two do not. We will have to wait and see.

Flynn, our antagonistic male character, is holding the frying pan, the wrong way around of course (you always hit someone with the base of the pan, not the, eh, pan part itself), this might well allude to his level of intelligence. He too stands ready to fight although his smile gives the game away that he might not take the approaching fight as seriously as he should.

While he stands with his back to Rapunzel, as in, he’s got her back, she is standing in front. With that in mind, Flynn is clearly standing with his back to whatever it is the horse is snarling at. He’d do well to look the other way.

Lastly there is Rapunzel, our protagonist. She stands feet apart, although her left one is on tippy-toe, as if it is ready to move at a moments notice. She holds her hair in both hands as if it is a weapon although it is not clear how she intends to use it. We can take a good guess but the poster does not make the intent explicit enough.

She stands sideways but faces forwards as if she intends to twirl  into action. While more characters don’t normally stand face-forward, they also don’t have their bodies facing 90 degrees either. With her left hand pulled so far back, the pose looks contorted and uncomfortable. If I were getting ready for a fight, I would most definitely have both hands in front of me, Fighting Irish style (although, no, we don’t really hold our fists like that). While the pose itself suggests that she is ready to for whatever it is that she anticipates, a more natural position would have been, not realistic, but more inviting in the eyes of the audience.

Her face is the most intriguing of the trio. Her eyes are furrowed as if she is disapproving or concentrating on something. She displays a knowing smirk, as if she is aware of exactly how things are going to turn out in her favour.

Atop her head sits her little froggie sidekick. He looks like the only one of the bunch that’s asking for a fight.

Last but not least, we have the tagline at the top.

They’re taking adventure to new lengths

I get the pun, but everyone will read that as they expect it to be. There are a million potential puns on the idea of length and they chose one that has nothing to do with it. It could be better is all I’m saying.

Now, compare the setting of this poster with the French one.

Now there’s a dramatic scene, both characters hanging out of the tower so tall you can barely see the ground below. The girl has managed to subdue Flynn as we would expect but it is clear that he is apprehensive not merely scared. Either way, does that look like an exciting movie or what?

Overall, the design of the US poster is pleasing. It is colourful and sets the overall tone for the film, i.e. it’s a bit of an adventure, we’re all in together and there’s a few laughs along the way. It piques interest in the film, which is its main mission. The trailer will do much more to sell the film, the one-sheet’s job is to alert the public to an exciting new movie that will soon debut.

Has it made me anticipate the movie? Yes it has. Would I hang it on my wall? Perhaps, although I’d have to move a few things around. As you can see, things are not as simple as they first appear. I’ve written a good  hundred thousand words on the thing and I’m not the slightest bit observant when it comes to art.

All in all, it looks like a good show. Let’s hope it turns out all right 🙂