Thirteen Movie Poster Cliches (And What They Say About The Movie)

French blogger Christophe Courtois put together several telling montages of similar movie posters, and we’ve got our own ideas about what to expect from a movie fitting into one of these trends. Hit the jump for all thirteen montages and what they might mean. (Merci beaucoup to ONTD for the assist.)

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

A silhouette in front of the ocean

Are you getting how poignant their movie is? Would another big floating head above the ocean convince you? Get ready for a sappy drama. Someone’s going to die, and the director is going to try their hardest to force you to cry. This is . . . entertainment?

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

A loner viewed from behind, accompanied only by their weapon of choice

The person is always alone, and, if they’re wearing a hat, there’s a deadly weapon taking a prominent place in the movie and the poster. Intended to imbue the person with mystery and power, it also implies that they may be our defender as we stand behind them and let them do their thing. More likely, though, we’re in for a movie with an improbably skilled or lucky hero who isn’t governed by the same laws of physics as the rest of us. The poster may end up eliciting more emotion from you than the movie itself. Except for The Dark Knight. That movie was the bomb.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Back to back, viewed from the side

This is the movie poster equivalent of the morning radio show hosted by a coed team of unfunny, bland dolts affectedly laughing at the stale, safe jokes they bought off prepburger. This poster is shorthand for, “These two are sassy and incorrigible! Exclamation points! Stay tuned for the credits to hear Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Feel The Rain On Your Skin’! You like that, right?”

And if you do like that, congratulations. You’re the reason we can’t have nice things.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

The between-the-legs shot

These almost always feature a very young, very skinny, bare-legged girl (who may or may not be in the movie), and there will be a man pictured in between her legs. Subtle.

Don’t expect any more creativity from the script than is evidenced by this very old poster cliche. Also, there’s almost no chance you’ll be seeing that girl naked, so this poster achieves the double whammy of skeeving out half the audience while disappointing the other half.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

… In bed.

A wise man once said, “There is no sex in the champagne room.” The same usually applies to the “in bed” poster. Just watch a porn instead. Sidenote: “Just watch a porn instead” was the best advice my dad ever gave me.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

The eyes have it

Often in the horror genre and always a movie trying to bill itself as more deep and artistic than it really is. Yes, I’m looking at you, Avatar.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Movies about nature have one acceptable color scheme

“The poster must be blue. The lettering must be white, probably all capitals. Try to jam an oversized moon in there. Hippies like that crap” — every poster designer for nature movies, apparently.

At least our beloved Werner Herzog would never do this. (Oh, wait, nevermind).

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

This action movie isn’t black and white, but most of the poster will be.

Perhaps trying to differentiate themselves from the average Stephen Seagal movie poster, the black and white poster says noir without having to actually, you know, understand what noir was. The splash of color (orange or red) will ensure we know there’s fire and explosions and also that this isn’t some boring, boobless black and white art film.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Running in the street, at a tilt, and tinted blue

Where did all these tilted alleyways bathed in blue light come from, and why do white men have to keep running down them holding a gun? I guess we’ll just have to watch this fascinating thriller to find out.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Building a face out of other objects

Someone just got photomosaic software, and now none of us get to know what the movie is actually about. Congratulations on the new software though.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Lady in red

How often do you see someone in a red dress in real life? Because, according to movie posters, 98% of all dresses are red. The other 2% are probably wedding dresses. The red dress movie poster lets you know there’s at least one attractive woman in the film, and she’s probably sassy and independent (until she meets the schlubby everyman and upends her entire life to suit his needs in the third act, of course).

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Justice is blind.

These movies usually have a theme of justice to them (Minority Report also fits this trope), but the true justice would be getting your money back.

[larger photo montage available at Christophe Courtois]

Big block font right over the face

This one’s relatively new, but the trend is already predictable: a large font often in white (usually sans serif and all caps) slapped directly over the lead actor’s face. The phrase will be either nebulous (“I am love”) or provocative (“I shot my wife”). Now imagine the same poster with the phrase in small print next to the actor’s face. Boring, isn’t it? This poster trend lets the designer take a simple sentence and a darkly-lit headshot — both of which would be boring on their own — then combine them with enough pretense to pass them off as deep. If you aren’t Barbara Kruger, give it a rest.