Movie posters are definitely one of the oldest and most effective promotional materials for movie studios. Forget the trailers - an inspired print design can convey more about the essence of the movie than a three-minute video ever could. And – it doesn’t spoil anything plot-wise!
From action flicks to classic comedies, movie poster designs go beyond mere marketing. They sum up the experience. One look at them is enough to take you back to a specific special moment in your life.
So, whether you’re looking to aesthetically emulate your favorite movie or learn how to make a print impression yourself, sit tight, grab the popcorn and feast your eyes on the best movie poster designs that rival the greatest works of art.
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It seems that, when approaching this particular design, The Dream Factory started from its own name. The dream-like aesthetics are restrained by a subdued color palette and deeply implicit visuals, without giving away any narrative hints.
“To withstand the psychological torture of the Gestapo, a lawyer imprisoned by the Nazis rescues himself in the world of chess.”
The poster for Schachnovelle (The Royal Game), based on the 1941 novel, is a textbook example of how suspenseful print design can reveal everything - and nothing, at the same time. Without depicting actual war-torn Europe, nor the chess game around which the movie revolves, it manages to masterfully showcase the struggle of an individual.
The poster borrows the metaphor of a “fragmented” protagonist (frame of mind = psychology), constructing his persona from the collage of different images, making him seem even more isolated.
Wendy’s movie poster, designed by Les Aliens, makes us the audience, eagerly want to see a fresh new take on a tale well-known in every corner of Neverland - pardon, the world.
However, this is not another story of Peter Pan. As the poster showcases, our protagonist is a young Wendy, a girl fighting to save her family, freedom and the joyous spirit of youth.
The poster frames the heroine as the eventual leader of the “lost boys”, bringing them back home.
The attention-grabbing title sports the beautifully cursive typography, that shines as if it was “written” by the mercurial Tinkerbell’s flight, which infuses the welcomed magical aspect (or fairy dust if you will) into a more mature design.
When designing El Carrito (Small cart) poster, Aurora Catera had one of the easiest, but also one of the most challenging tasks. Choosing to use a still from the short film is one thing, but selecting the right one is a whole new ballgame.
Even without a designer background, just by looking at the photograph, you can sense the emotion director Zahida Pirani wants you to feel. Loneliness, pointlessness, the absurdity of young life trapped in a class-based prison, and the list goes on...
“Nelly slogs through another unsuccessful day of street vending in Queens, New York. Determined to improve her circumstances, she makes a risky business decision that ends in misfortune.”
As a final touch, a signature on this sentence is the film’s title. Painted with the same color as Nelly’s hoodie, it represents the shackles and a unique bond between her and her “carrito".
Borrowing a great deal from Shepard Fairley’s famous Barack Obama “Hope” affiche, Truest LLC created a superb canvas-like quality poster for the One for All movie.
The connection is intentional, as the movie’s rising star has to battle for “leadership”, while juggling personal life. DJ Chris Villa competes in the “Olympics of DJ-ing" as one of 6 US Finalists. The drama unfolds as Chris perseveres through the challenges of marriage and fatherhood to create a winning set.
The bold letters across the print call to mind the famous “Yes we can” quote, they frame the face very clearly, placing a wall of text over a close-up of the main character creating an almost urgent feeling.
Through color, the poster brilliantly depicts the inner conflict, while the leading man’s stern gaze emanates resolve and winning mentality.
Great title placement (mirroring the Stop sign on the road)
Cold color palette
Uncanny change of perspective
Designing a horror/thriller poster is an entirely different matter. As the industry shows, many opt for your typical eerie close-ups (eyes in front) with gruesome details in the background and while effective this trope has worn its welcome.
The Unsane poster, courtesy of Scott Saslow, does something different entirely. It being upside down is not only a good play on the movie's title but on the plot as well. It’s a wonder how a regular, albeit slightly shifted, suburb scene inspires such an intense feeling of uneasiness.
Since the director, Steven Soderbergh directed the whole movie entirely on iPhone 7 Plus, the poster opens up another window, so to speak. Knowing this fact morphs the onlooker into an antagonistic character from the movie, filming the lead casually from the side.
Whether they’re inspired by one of Jim Jarmusch's greatest works or not, one could say that movies are an essential part of Coffee & Cigarettes. However, when designing a poster for Ava, they went in a totally opposite direction from the legendary director, especially when it comes to the color scheme.
Adding a slight twist to the action poster archetype, they successfully conveyed movement and chaos but retained the bold color. The prevalent redness discharging from the heroine (played by Jessica Chastain) mashes well with ample explosions, fire effect and a charming bloody scar on her cheek.
The whole poster reminds the audience of the ‘80s aesthetics, the golden era of action movies. The only difference is that the femme fatale of old nowadays lives up to her title.
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Coded’s movie poster, designed by Frost Foundry, achieves two important elements of a design - style and interest. Once you look at it, you’re pulled to a well of questions: what is the setting? Who are those two men in the artwork? Why does he look like a painting?
The film revolves around illustrator J.C. Leyendecker’s works – which explains why this movie poster demands to be admired (and inspected) like a painting in a museum.
While the style brings its viewers to an artist’s world, the typography snatches them back to modern times. Closely put-together thin lines depict there will be too many things to unravel in the story (see kicker in the orange text above the title).
The lavender background is not to be ignored, too. Although a strong shade, it perfectly blends with the elements in the front. It also symbolizes empowerment, especially in the LGBTQ community, which is a critical message throughout the film.
The graphic novel-esque design is a scene-stealer. Created by MEOCKA, movie posters for The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It uphold great details and design from the earlier Conjuring movies. The posters hint at classic Conjuring and combine elements that are fresh to the American supernatural horror film.
The color palette for these movie posters was limited. However, the distinct use of deep red across all three designs stitched them well together. The spats of blood on the newspaper gave one of the posters an eerie vibe. Several details such as the headlines throw hints of the movie’s gist as well. More than that, given that the movie is set in the early 80s, combining everything else with print media is a seamless touch overall.
There were several ups and downs before the release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which gave way to more promotional material for the title. While this urged additional posters, all three amplified the anticipation and sparked excitement.
What’s Buried in the Backyard movie poster design banks on iconography big time. A bloody shovel centered in a rusty-blood background stands out. It gives the audience a big chunk of the movie’s premise while still leaving a lot of room for mystery.
The typography in this poster is brilliant and consistent with the overall theme. Splatters of blood decorate each letter, adding the perfect spooky effect.
What sets this apart from all the other movie poster designs in this list is its powerful use of the color red. As mentioned earlier, the upper background of the poster almost makes you smell the rustiness of blood. The lower part, which looks like a preview of an open grave, has the soil texture blended with the gory crimson shade.
This design by Phil Bates is enough to signal fear to its audience – a fitting teaser poster to an equally frightening film.
Intense emotional pull. That is what this design is all about.
The monochromatic scheme brings forth the dramatic vibe of the movie coupled with fierce emotions from the cast. Designed by Yigit Isik, this poster reflects how explosive the film is. Centering on the loaded cast of the story, this design instills interest in every viewer in a snap.
Featuring the LA bridge is a nice touch to give viewers a clue of where the story takes place.
People are inclined to look at the bottom right corner of the poster because of the attention-pulling texts. The title, executed in red font, pays homage to the first two movie posters.
This particular movie poster design stepped up from the two other The Game posters. The enhanced photography combined with color grading and shading gives it a “realist drawing” atmosphere.
Ultimately, the True to the Game 3 poster has notably improved, looking at its predecessors. Having a lot of weight on the poster by packing it with the main characters while staying true to the earlier movies is a huge plus.
The Last Election and Other Love Stories movie poster design is uncomplicated and impactful.
The Silhouette photography definitely gives off a lasting impression. It’s rare to find campaigns playing against the light. This alone makes a huge impact on the main characters, giving off a mysterious vibe.
One might mistake The Last Election and Other Love Stories for a dance movie because of the flashing lights in the background. However, it symbolizes flash ethnography about the United States election day in 2020.
The straightforward and minimalistic approach focuses on high contrast design that focuses on the emotional appeal of both characters. With limited visual hints, it sparks curiosity and draws the attention of those who might not have a clue as to what the movie is about.
As a movie that features a unique and interesting storyline that brings light to politics and the elections, this design by Berckan Okar somehow masks the chaotic events in the story. At the end of the day, its unique composition magnifies the movie’s gist without giving out too much.
The challenge in designing this is the story’s wide-range presence as a children’s fairy tale – light, cutesy, and full of lessons. This time, the designers had to dwell on its dark and dangerous side.
So, the best way to engage with the fans of the children’s tale Hansel and Gretel and to possibly hook fantasy horror film enthusiasts is to present something familiar. Poster design company Blood&Chocolate did this with flying colors with this one.
The Gretel and Hansel movie poster design heavily relies on a still image taken from the movie wherein a woman (the witch, in the movie) slowly spits out a blonde girl’s strands of hair. This image gives fairy tale fans a sense of familiarity, somehow bringing them back to their childhood whenever they listen to this story during bedtime.
Only this time, it will no longer give them sweet dreams.
This sinister movie poster design attracts fantasy horror fanatics. Although clear and simple, it effortlessly piques their interest and sends them running for movie tickets.
To add more emphasis to the image, the designers cleared the background and focused on blending yellow and black for that gloomy energy. What made this poster extra special is the intricacy of the design. Wrinkles, fine strands, the creases on the character’s shirt, and even the slight shimmer of her ring are all pleasant treats to the eyes.
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