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A Brief History Of Harry Potter Movie Posters

Posted on Wednesday November 17, 2010, 11:03 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
A Brief History Of Harry Potter Movie Posters

It’s been nine years since the first Harry Potter film, and six movies later we’ve seen Warners’ overworked publicity team try to maintain interest in the casual cinema-goer with barrage after barrage of Potter posters. They were no doubt aided in their efforts by the humongous worldwide appeal of the original novels, but this lot haven't left anything to chance - and we were left wondering if this is the biggest selection of promotional posters produced for any franchise ever?

There’re more than enough shots of Harry, Ron and Hermione looking frownily at the camera while a mysterious wind blows into their faces, but there’s a definite appeal to each and every onslaught of Pottery posteriness, and to that end, we’ve compiled a little guide, casting a critical eye over the one sheets and character banners of each and every cinematic visit to Hogwarts and charting the evolution of Potter's artwork.

So let’s begin… at the beginning. (*Bum-ba-bum, ba-bum-ba-bum...*) 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
The main thing to notice here is, of course, the different markets’ different titles. India and the U.S. followed the names their publishers used for the first novel, seemingly believing the idea of a “philosopher” having a “stone” and the legend surrounding it too complicated for the kiddlywinks, and losing the alchemy reference in the process.

That said, the Drew Struzan Sorceror’s stone one-sheet is stunning, and the simple, sweet posters such as the “cupboard under the stairs” letter, and the boats to Hogwarts remain a joy to look at – the latter brilliantly played with in the Deathly Hallows flaming Hogwarts piece… but more on that later.

As for the character banners, the lettering seems a little ropey to us, and why on earth is there a goblins poster? Didn't Ron and Hermione deserve their own posters? Still, those are all mistakes to be rectified later.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Dobby, God bless him. He’s the Jar Jar Binks of the Potter franchise (yes, we went there – or, at least, I went there) and it’s almost impossible to put him in a poster without ruining the damn thing. There he lurks, whimpering, squeaking, all doe-eyed and CG, rendering poor Harry ever-so-slightly less manly, despite the whopping great big sword in his hand. See the German poster in particular for this. And as for the solo-Dobby one sheet…? Not their finest work.

On the other hand, the character banners have now become, officially, ‘wicked’ – apart from poor Ron’s, whose Mandrake-holding chuckle-fest leaves his poster looking like some kind of brightly-coloured vomitorium. But that’s all made up for by Draco’s dark green evil-off between Jason Isaacs (hello!) and Alan Rickman. It’s just so… evil.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
As the films darken, so do the posters, contracting a particularly virulent form of floaty head disease, as well as suffering from severe shadowing around the edges. Just look at Ron’s poor scared little face – it’s like someone’s nicked his teddy bear and threw it down a well. What's more, Gary Oldman manages to out-act the lot of them in just the posters. What. A. Hero.

Do these look a little bit more obviously photoshopped to you? Ron’s leg trapped in the Monster Book of Monsters, Harry ‘holding’ the Marauder's Map… the backgrounds seem cluttered, which is a shame, as it gives away some of the little things to look forward to during the film. That said, Gary Oldman. Okay, we’re a little obsessed.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
And then it got good. Really good. These smoky one-character posters scream confidence, action, excitement, and don’t rely on cluttering the background with magical trinkets and references. The posters just say: this is a good movie, and chances are, you’ll want to watch it. And that natty Triwizard outfit Harry’s wearing? Very nice.

So many character banners, so little time. With three new lead young ‘uns to add into the mix, as well as Mad Eye and the other headmasters too, it’s a hodge podge of new people and old, and yet the lower camera angles (and Ron’s oh-so-very-cool gown) make it all work.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Here, there’s nothing especially new going on – groups of wizards and witches staring at the camera, pointing wands, lights in the distance – but with the first death of a major character at the end of the last film, as well as the first appearance of the new, reinvigorated Voldemort, it all holds a greater significance… the rebellion begins. Imelda Staunton (a.k.a Dolores Umbridge) deserves a bigger spot, we reckon, especially as she was nothing short of amazing on screen. Still, moody! Magical! Wands!

Each character banner is shared with one other: Hermione with Dolores, Dolores with Dumbledore, Harry with Voldemort, the latter character held within a Prophesy Orb, which is a very nice touch. But it’s Voldemort’s very own one sheet, arms raised, that really steals the show.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Similarly to The Order Of The Phoenix, it’s difficult to differentiate between the character banners and the actual “posters” – but that’s no problem. With such a climactic, character-driven film, it would be hard to do anything else. There's Snape coming into his own, Dumbledore dying, Draco Malfoy stepping up to the plate, and the whole Lavender Brown / Hermione Granger / Ron Weasley love triangle… it’s got loads going on, and it’s all about the characters. The reflecting glasses poster is a particular stand-out, as is the back lit Dumbledore. Plus, Ron wears his Quidditch kit, and in no way looks like a buffoon. Which is always nice for Ron.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
The running-through-the-woods number: fantastic. Hogwarts in flames: jaw-dropping (even if it's more of a Part Two thing). The ‘Nowhere is safe’, London background banners: excellent. The dirty-faced, on the run, tense tone that runs throughout the poster campaign is a brilliant interpretation of the film itself, proving everyone that they’d saved the best until (second)last. Now just look back to that original Hogwarts picture from the first movie… and back to the Hogwarts in flames. Brilliant stuff.

They’d managed to avoid the single cropped face shot beforehand, but when they finally did, they don’t do a bad job of it. Sure, Ron isn’t as menacing as we’d have liked, but that Voldemort number is just so chilling it doesn’t much matter.

The question now is, what's your favourite? Not just your favourite Potter movie, but your favourite Potter poster? Or you favourite Potter character banner, even. Which one-sheet would you like to Accio in your general direction? Let us know in the comment box below.

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1 Bajada
Posted on Friday November 19, 2010, 18:54
Sirius Black is the best character from the books and his poster for Prisoner of Azkaban is pretty cool! But the best poster has to be of Drew Struzan cause it's the most original!

2 dalbrecht78
Posted on Friday November 19, 2010, 19:19
That Voldemort one, the last one, its just awsome!!!

3 Mary Carmen
Posted on Friday November 19, 2010, 19:51
I hate the fact that Ron is made out to be a total idiot in the first 4 movie posters! I think the best series is The Halfblood Prince one.

4 Juliette
Posted on Friday November 19, 2010, 20:14
I like the reflecting glasses poster from Half-Blood Prince, which seems the most creative. But I'm very fond of the Lord-of-the-Rings style, pile everyone on one poster one sheets from Philosopher's Stone as well.

5 cowhead
Posted on Saturday November 20, 2010, 00:12
My favourite is the Owl teaser poster from Philosopher's Stone. Just the Owl and the letter but so magical. Brilliant teaser of what is to come.

6 rudyalapag
Posted on Saturday November 20, 2010, 16:56
i like "ALL" but the most recent i really like is The Deathly Hallows. Theatrical Poster with Dan, Rupert and Emma.All single posters of each DH is totally awesome.

7 easytigeruk
Posted on Saturday November 20, 2010, 23:01
the 'WANTED' one for me too, it just looks so .... different. Which is kind of the point. And how Oldman can have such gravitas when he is standing still and not saying anything is just a credit to him. All the others are good, but equally good, and stand as part of a series instead of a single, snapshot, omg look moment.

8 LeChuck
Posted on Sunday November 21, 2010, 00:21
I'm surprised Empire didn't point out the most striking aspect of the Half-Blood Prince campaign: the fact that in most of the posters, the actual "Harry Potter" name is obscured or blown up to such a large typeface that you can't see it. Look at the main ensemble poster; the only part of the actual Potter logo visible is the lower half of the P.

I think that speaks volumes about the confidence they had in the brand at this point; you only need to see 5 per cent of the logo to start getting the audience excited.

9 jojoruck
Posted on Sunday November 21, 2010, 08:35
Goblet of Fire has the nicest set overall. So my favourite one would be the main one from that film with Hogwarts and the lake in the background. After that it's gotta be Hogwarts in flames...

10 FanaticalAboutFilm
Posted on Sunday November 21, 2010, 10:20
I especially like the Goblet of Fire ones and the Halfblood Prince character banners (Snape, Dumbledore!) !! Ah, and the new posters...amazing!!! And I really like the Dobby character banners, not just the newest one but from the second part too... Oh, Dobby, it`s so sad...

11 chrishaydon_63
Posted on Sunday November 21, 2010, 16:34
All of them are brilliant! The Harry Potter films are promoted wonderfully!
I love the colour pallet has changed over the years to fit the tones of the movies.
'The Philosopher's Stone' posters are all primary colours and are incredibly striking whilst 'The Deathly Hallows' posters are dark and dank.
Beautiful poster collection! Have many on my walls!

12 Ulmaceae
Posted on Monday November 22, 2010, 02:14
I quite liked the Dobby teaser for Chamber of Secrets.

One thing is I've never liked the typeface used, especially the lightning effect of the P. Contracting it to HP7 on a poster is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

13 billythehick
Posted on Monday November 22, 2010, 02:36
My favourite one is the Half-Blood Price one where it looks like Hermione's giving slughorn a handjob.
I'm not kidding, look at it. Even the look on Broadbent's face is fantastic, like he's daring you to point it out. I'm convinced some rogue graphic designer did that on purpose, it's just too perfect.

14 Rombacca
Posted on Monday November 22, 2010, 19:20
Just gone back and looked at the Hermione / Slughorn handjob.... Just classic!

15 billythehick
Posted on Monday November 22, 2010, 21:00
I know, right? I spotted this when the film ws in theatres and was amazed it didn't turn into some kind of meme.

16 nick_deryck_91
Posted on Tuesday November 23, 2010, 09:49
i like the ginny and ron quidditch poster cuz there isnt really any posters with the game on it so yeh... but anything with emma watson is worth looking at.. so i like all them to

17 ginkgonk12
Posted on Tuesday November 23, 2010, 12:49
Hogwarts in flames is just...

18 aneeh
Posted on Wednesday November 24, 2010, 21:01
its got to be the owl with the letter directed to the cupboard under the stairs, if you've been on another planet for the last 10 years and new nothing about the characters or plot the address alone and why an owl would deliver it should intrigue you enough to discover more

19 GinaMarieManning
Posted on Tuesday November 30, 2010, 00:40
I love Harry Potter and over the years have collected posters from the films and book launches. I love the way that the films spookyness increased as i did! i was suprised how many of the poster i did have!

20 skate_ratcomics
Posted on Tuesday November 30, 2010, 06:37
Struzan, but the voldemort ones are also excellent.

21 llog22222
Posted on Wednesday December 15, 2010, 20:03
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