Which of 2013’s posters will pass the test of time? It’s hard to tell from this vantage point, but we like to think of these 50 promos as a good place to start. From budget-blowing blockbusters to the tiniest indie beauties, there are all sorts here, with variety very much to the fore. Take a look through the list and post your additional picks in the comment box below…
ALL IS LOST
It’s hard to pick a favourite from the posters produced for J. C. Chandor’s follow-up to Margin Call. There’s the Robert Redford with a sail number, or the Robert Redford kneeling on the bow of a boat design – we’re not being glib here, they’re all excellent – but this one wins out, if only for the glorious rain effect and foreboding grey clouds. For blue clouds, check out the Spanish language version (where the film’s called ‘Cuando Todo Está Perdido’).
ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES
Ron Burgundy is proud of saying that his mission on this Earth is to “have salon-quality hair and read the news”. But what of his salon-quality moustache? Doesn’t that deserve a little love? Yes it does, and this teaser is there to spread that love, all without even stating the title. Incidentally, to see a GIGANTIC Buddha, covered in hair, check out this Attack Of The 50ft Baxter poster here.
Killer Whales aren’t technically whales, but they are killers. Or they can be, if you lock them in an underwater garage with other underfed killer whales by night and make them perform menial tricks in a swimming pool in the day. Encapsulating the danger of a ‘Blackfish’ – as they are sometimes called – this monochrome masterpiece is part Rorschach test, part warning.
PS Check out the hidden dorsal fin in the bottom of the ‘K’...
THE BLING RING
Spring Breakers tried a similar items-laid-out-on-a-white-background trick in one of their posters, only it had more giant lollipops, pink balaclavas and guns. Team Bling Ring, meanwhile, keep it simple, with just six sunglasses to communicate a surprising amount the movie and its characters.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR
The time and effort that must have gone into making the blue hair here is mind-boggling. Shame the typography is so strong, as it detracts a little from subtler work in the drawing department, but the whole still works well.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Naysayers have (nay)said that this Cap’ 2 one-sheet is just a simple poster equation. Take one Iron Man 3, add some World War Z and hey presto! It’s Captain America: The Amalgamated Poster. This, though funny, isn’t quite fair. What makes this teaser work is the hidden letter visible if you squint hard enough – it’s an ‘A’, see – and the way it’s a male superhero character with his back turned. Can’t wait for the Hulk version...
Yes, it’s another ‘Words Over Faces’ poster to add to our increasingly long list, but this one has a few things to set it apart. First off, there’s the bucket o’ blood creeping down Chloe Grace Moretz’s mug; then it gets bonus points for not actually mentioning the film’s title while at the same time reassuring passers-by that they’ll know it anyway. For its cojones alone, this poster deserves recognition.
DESPICABLE ME 2
Ignore the ‘Honk If You Love Minions’ bus posters and the ‘Phil The French Maid’ one-sheets, because underneath the pile of fart guns and gigantic rocket launchers lies this, a little treat for anyone seriously considering putting a Despicable Me 2 poster on their wall. With the wide eyes and generous use of creative white space, you can’t help but imagine the havoc about to ensue. Our best guess involves some Super Glue, a baseball bat and a bucket of gunge.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
It seems like only yesterday that Edge Of Tomorrow was All You Need Is Kill, and then All You Need Is Kill died and Edge Of Tomorrow was born. Presumably, All You Need Is Tomorrow and Edge Of Kill both failed to make it past the drawing board. This is rather appropriate when you realise the main point of this movie, like Source Code before it, is that Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise’s soldiers – who are battling evil space bastards, by the way – live and die every day in battle, only to be reborn and start all over again. Here are the two mech-suited and booted movie stars, somehow forming one beautiful whole. Whatever the film’s called.
The whole city-coming-out-of-someone’s-head thing has been done before – most memorably by The Iron Lady, which saw Meryl Streep’s dome (as Maggie Thatcher) morphing into the Houses of Parliament – but this one has a massive spider monster in Jake Gyllenhaal’s hair, so it’s undeniably better.
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW
A psychological horror shot in Disneyland and Disney World without the approval of Uncle Walt, this guerilla film, recorded on the sly using Handycams and cameraphones, was not officially acknowledged by Walt Disney Parks And Resorts, even after it was released. As such, director Randy Moore can just about get away with this bloody-handed Mickey take, in the process making hundreds of thousands of design nerds clap with delight at his sheer, unadulterated gumption.
FAST & FURIOUS 6 SET
This is not the first time the Fast & Furious team have used creative cloudy blue space at the top of their posters – as this relatively obscure Fast Five one-sheet proves – but it is the best. On a side note, thank the heavens this Korean poster didn’t hit any English-speaking shores, as FF6 looks just a little like FFS when you do it like this…
![Fast & Furious 6 ]%28/images/uploaded/fast-and-furious-6-poster-4.jpg%29
The Filth poster designers really outdid themselves with their gloriously provocative campaign, offering three options for what you’d like to see James McAvoy riding like a bucking bronco. There was the bottle of whisky, the rolled up £20 note and then this, the remarkably nonplussed pig. As an amusing amuse-bouche, the teaser for this run of billboard emblazoners was a drawing of Jimmy Mac crawling/climbing up a road crossing/ladder made of cocaine, and because it’s so good, we’re including it here anyway.
You can see the original photo this poster is based on here, on another poster. But though the designer only has a cropped-out still to play with, two added tweaks make the whole work: namely the fun typeface and the pink/black/cream palette. Simple, silly and very successful at getting the movie’s tone across, it’s a fine example of good colour use on a poster for a monchrome film.
![Godzilla]%28/images/uploaded/godzilla-teaser-poster-2.jpg%29 From concept to execution, these three well thought-out teasers are pretty much perfect. The logo alone is worthy of praise, then there’s the red tint, and the cunning obfuscation of the monster’s face. If the campaign continues in this fashion, you can expect more than a few of these on students’ bedsit walls in decades to come.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Stateliness, thy name is the poster for Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. A blend of painted background and photo trickery, it’s all perfectly complemented by the great use of colours in the cast’s credits. And one thing’s for sure: you’ll know it’s a Wes Anderson movie from a few hundred miles away. You’ll need Moonrise Kingdom binoculars, mind you.
There’s a cracking Mondo poster for Gravity, but this is the stand-out of its studio campaign. Gorgeous in its simplicity, scary in a way it’s hard to quantify, you can almost hear the trailer’s ear-shattering music while you’re standing at the bus stop.
THE GREAT GATSBY CHARACTER SET
![The Great Gatsby]%28/images/uploaded/great-gatsby-character-poster-carey-mulligan.jpg%29 Though it’s just one of a series of similar character posters, this one-sheet of Jay Gatsby stands out, and not just because that Leonardo DiCaprio is a bit of a dish. The typeface design is the most obvious highlight, but that’s also carried through to the background, where the clever “JG” motif is repeated. We could live without the “Can’t repeat the past? …of course you can!” tagline, mind.
![The Great Gatsby]%28/images/uploaded/great-gatsby-character-poster-joel-edgerton.jpg%29
THE HANGOVER PART III
The other posters for the third Hangover movie were quite dreadful, all big faces and strange out-of-context stills. But this one is a lot of fun, neatly parodying two famous Deathly Hallow posters with Las Vegas burning down in the background instead of Hogwarts. Presumably, it’s a joke about how the finale is darker and more dangerous the others, but really... what does it matter?
HAWAIIAN: THE LEGEND OF EDDIE AIKAU
This ESPN surfing documentary won’t appear on many top tens this year, not because of its quality, but because not enough people have seen it. If you’re a poster buff you’ll appreciate its one-sheet, not least due to this cracking piece of photography.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
If you’re going to call your movie “The Desolation Of Smaug”, you’d better show a little desolation on your poster. By the way, desolation is defined as “a state of complete emptiness or destruction”, which is what you’ll get if you let a massive, angry, greedy dragon make a nest in your mountain kingdom.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
Like an old, faded Kodachrome photo left out in the sun, this series of Catching Fire posters look like they may well catch fire if someone were to hover a magnifying glass over them. Mythical, magical, hopeful, wistful, beautiful and altogether… different, it’s a great treatment and the standout of a very strong campaign. See also: this excellent IMAX one-sheet.
Like VHS 2, In Fear channeled your busted shredder to produce this red-and-black-and-scary-all-over number. Now when you look at a beautiful winter sunset when you’re walking through the woods, you’ll only think of big red serrated knives. Hooray?
IRON MAN 3
![Iron Man 3 poster]%28/images/uploaded/iron-man-3-crashing-poster.jpg%29 For the third Iron Man solo outing, three special posters caught the eye. First was the Mandarin himself, which holds even more significance when you know the twist – look at the iconography: dragons, joss sticks, dog tags and, if you squint, Iron Man’s helmet under his foot. Then there was Tony Stark, suited but without robo-balaclava, crashing to earth (and in so doing looking a lot like this Star Trek Into Darkness poster). Finally, there’s the pièce de résistance, an IMAX poster courtesy of much-loved comic-book artist Jock, which sees Tony’s assorted suits assemble in a way that’s even cooler than the film. Admit it, you want one.
JOHN DIES AT THE END
The film’s title is a spoiler, the film’s poster has that title on it (which is a spoiler) and to cap it all off, they acknowledge it’s a spoiler by saying, “(Spoiler Alert)”. In case you were wondering, this is a truly weird movie, and as such, its take on the items-from-the-film-spelling-out-its-name motif – as seen with ParaNorman last year – features such disturbing things as a human heart, a snake-slug and several narc-friendly needles.
THE LAST EXORCISM PART II
Don’t question the strangeness of its title – There’s another Last Exorcism? Huh? – just bow down before this contortionist-centric sequel one-sheet. Some fortunate/unfortunate shadowing there, and no mistake.
Giving Tom Hiddleston a run for his money in the horned headgear department, Angelina Jolie stops you in your tracks with her moon-white face, glowing green eyes and slightly biker-chic hat. Magnificent.
MAN OF STEEL
It’s difficult to represent a sonic boom on a poster. All right, you use the blur tool on Photoshop, but this is some of the best use of the blur tool on Photoshop yet seen on a movie poster. Then there’s the lens flare, which somehow works, and the sheer simplicity of it. It’s hard not to hear Hans Zimmer’s ‘Flight’ theme when you look at it…
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Nelson Mandela’s full name is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Rolihlahla means “one who shakes branches”, which is generally translated as – you guessed it – “troublemaker”. It’s such an impactful poster you almost don’t clock that Idris Elba, brilliant actor though he is, doesn’t look a lot like the late, great leader.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
From the director of The Avengers and the producer of The Cabin In The Woods comes the Shakespeare adaptation to end all Shakespeare adaptations: Much Ado About Nothing. Its beauty is in its simplicity, but putting Whedon’s name next to Shakespeare’s like that…? That’s brave.
Move over Eraserhead, a new wild-haired weirdo is in town, and his name is Woody Grant. And yes, the poster is in black and white because the film is in black and white. Alexander Payne is clever like that.
NOW YOU SEE ME
Now You See Me was the little magic movie that could (sorry Burt Wonderstone), earning $351 million worldwide and a likely sequel. This was all down to its great lead poster, which you can see here. Or it might have something to do with the cast, and the director, and the script, and the everything else, but the visual trickery here perfectly complemented the whole piece. One thing's for sure: whoever follows it up on the sequel will really have to pull a rabbit from their hat.
NYMPHOMANIAC POSTER SET
Most character banner posters in 2013 have been rather lacking, as you’ll see from our Worst Posters Of The Year feature. Nymphomaniac’s one-sheets were also lacking, but only in the clothing department. Essentially a series of snaps of the actors involved pulling their best climactic gurns at the camera, all without a scrap on, it certainly attracted the world’s attention. It even resulted in The Guardian running an article with ‘The 10 best Nymphomaniac orgasm posters: vote for your favourite’ as its headline, in the process proving that journalism is not dead.
![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-4.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-5.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-6.jpg%29 !%28/images/point.gif%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-7.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-8.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-9.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-10.jpg%29 !%28/images/point.gif%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-11.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-12.jpg%29 ![Nyphomaniac poster]%28/images/uploaded/nyphomaniac-poster-set-13.jpg%29
No, it’s not the number of people who went to see the film, it’s the number of years Josh Brolin’s ad man was locked in a hotel room-cum-prison.
ONLY GOD FORGIVES
The film divided us, but the poster united us. The echoes of “GET THIS ON MY WALL” still echo around the office, and, if you listen carefully, much of the internet.
Robots and robots and helicopters and robots and broken bridges and monsters and helicopters and robots and monsters and title. Now that’s how you make a movie poster. See also, The Hobbit: The Desolation’s Of Smaug, which tried a similar trick, but forgot to include the monsters and robots and helicopters.
If this poster is making you feel sad, then it’s done its job. Sombre, bleak, simple, it’s almost a poster that doesn’t want you to see the film, and for that reason alone it’s worthy of note.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
We’re suckers for this kind of stylised sparseness, so after seeing this poster there was even more jubilation when the steelbook chose this as its design too – though it is much clearer and cleaner there, which is a shame. Still, if you ride like…
RIDDICK TEASER POSTERS
Take your Riddick pick: would you like Vin Diesel in blue or red? Whichever you chose, he’s in the dark, and he’s looking menacing.
SAVING MR. BANKS
Saving Mr. Banks’ poster is not the first to do the shadow trick. Previously, we’ve seen The Phantom Menace, The Informant and What About Bob? do similar things, but this one sets itself apart because of the one-two team of a rodent called Mickey Mouse and some nanny called Mary Poppins.
THE SECRET OF WALTER MITTY LOCATION POSTERS
![The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty teaser poster]%28/images/uploaded/secret-of-walter-mitty-teaser-poster-2.jpg%29 Ben Stiller on a plane’s wing, Ben Stiller near a volcano, Ben Stiller on the moon… Ben Stiller sitting precariously on a mountain, suitcase about to fall off the side. They’re simple ideas, but like the film itself, it’s dreamlike, and it works.
![The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty teaser poster]%28/images/uploaded/secret-of-walter-mitty-teaser-poster-5.jpg%29
With its shocking lime and even more shocking pink colour palette, this is a scary, scary poster. The slightly hidden gun also helps, as well as the balaclava of course, but there’s just such a violent air to it that makes you worry for your wallet. On the other side of the coin, there’s a simple still-from-the-film job, but what a still from the film! Shame you can’t hear James Franco’s Britney Spears impersonation on a poster, really…
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
Alluded to earlier, this, like Iron Man 3, offers a key piece of the film franchise’s iconography hurtling to earth with smoke trailing behind it. It certainly makes you think twice about the film – and three more times about the film’s title – and if that was its job, which it was, it nailed it. Plus, it gave us this clever piece of Photoshop fun, and you can’t ignore that.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
First appearing on Empire’s subscribers’ copies for our Thor: The Dark World issues, these special pieces of art soon became fully-fledged posters in their own right. The Loki one deserves special attention, if only because once you’ve seen the film, you suddenly realise it’s a bit of spoiler (kind of).
God bless whoever came up with the idea of having James ‘Nice Guy’ McAvoy’s screaming face distorted by multicoloured satellite interference and what looks like the sea.
When was the last time you saw VHS tape? Too long ago. Allow this shredded skull to refresh your memory, and make you feel slightly uncomfortable at the same time.
WORLD WAR Z
It’s the weirdest thing: if you squint, the regular World War Z poster – the one with Brad Pitt leaning out of a helicopter – looks like this black and white (and red) one. This poster wins out, however, as it actually shows zombies. More than that, it makes you wonder what the word for Zombie Jenga is. Jengbie? Zenga? The truth is out there.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
This year’s Comic-Con had plenty of stellar teaser posters, but these were the best of the bunch, almost wiping away the memory of those silhouette shockers from 2011’s First Class release. Supporting this X-cellent pair were some propaganda-style one-sheets centering on the Sentinels, which you can check out here.
Ingenious home-invasion horror You’re Next is worthy of two ingenious posters, focusing on the invasions of the home. Bask, then, in the brilliance of these two, with one a map that practically forces you to stare at it, and the other poking fun at one of the worst films of the year. You heard, The Big Wedding. You heard.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER
The Kings Of Summer is a little indie film that deserved more love on its release. Chock-full of charm, memorable characters and songs that’ll stick in your head for days, it impressed Jurassic Park 4’s production team enough to cast its star, Nick Robinson, in the upcoming dino fourquel. The regular posters concentrated on the movie’s three young leads leaping into a lake, but some limited-edition prints took a different tack. This one is perhaps the best of the lot, but if you’re intrigued, be sure to check out this 16-bit number, and this road-snake concept (as weird as that sounds).