Saturday, 31 October 2015

Movies With Not-So-Good Poster Designs Revamped: Billy Crystal & Robin Williams's Fathers' Day

A-list, big budget movies are a huge business; with so much riding on its coat tails and success, marketing & selling a movie is a huge opportunity for creative designers to work their magic. 

The posters, in-theater and cinema displays, and DVD box art are all designed to touch people on the right emotional level. They have to compel, inspire and excite readers and potential audiences in ways that will have them clamoring for the theaters & cinemas, DVDs, digital downloads, or by streaming them at home (Rucker)

Despite relying on online promotion and social media presence through Twitter and Facebook in today's day and age, the poster design is still considered a key & traditional element in the marketing of a film. 

In advertising, movie posters incorporate similar methods which can summarize the movie through visuals, photographic images & words. These include simple-yet striking visuals, use of colours and patterns, art style and the juxtaposition and presentation of the characters (Imagine Nation).

Movie studios invest so much time, creative energy and money into promoting their cultural texts that we tend to hold them to account when movie posters do not accomplish what they set out to do, as their main reason for existing: and that reason being is to successfully convey the movie's message to the audience, and by thus, selling the movie to them. Not just financially by charging for tickets, DVD sales, merchandising but also through the means of visual art and design. 

Not only do posters play a huge role in advertising and promoting a movie, but they serve a purpose by informing the public as to when they will be shown in official screenings and alas, they are extremely important when it comes to its stylistic and visual design elements. Sometimes, the film's essence and success is defined, as well as conveyed in one still image. 

The chosen artistic approach depends on the movie, messages and responses the design team wishes to employ: if these are conveyed well, the poster will be well received; if however, these things are not conveyed well, or the wrong image/s is/are chosen, that message will be lost and the poster would have failed to capture the readers attention. Plus, it is highly unlikely s/he will go and see that movie, based on that poster concept alone - which truth be told is not a good enough excuse to avoid it, but nevertheless, a bad movie poster is still a bad movie poster. 

Let's take a look at, as well as deconstruct the 1997 comedy movie, 'Fathers' Day' starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal:



*Fathers' Day Poster design #1 - minimalist -style, minus the actors


*Fathers' Day official Poster design #2 featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal 

First off, I'll begin by saying that with regards to the concepts and elements of the design, this poster featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal on the front doesn't seem to convey what it is trying to say, nor give an idea to the viewer what the movie might be about. The only thing the reader will take from it, is that in terms of what type of movie it is, the first idea that comes to mind is that it is a comedy movie, and that it is a comedy. 

Secondly, though whilst it is good that they have the main portrait shots of the stars on the poster, it is the odd poses that make it look awkward: Robin Williams, especially that makes it look seem so 'off'. Here it - or be it he looks goofy, yet even though it is supposed to signify his character being an oddball, this just doesn't give the impression that Dale is weird. Rather when s/he sees it, they would think 'what is this Robin Williams character?' & 'what's with the crazy stare?'

In the first poster, the tag-line is another branding fail by the creators: I mean 'the reason why some animals eat their young'  may make sense when we talk about a lion or some other animal eating their own cubs/children. But in the sheer context of this movie, it sounds so out-of-place. What is that supposed to mean when we are talking about this movie, exactly? How does this tag-line relate to the plot of the movie of 2 male strangers, who are on the hunt for a teenage boy who could turn out to be their son? It makes no sense. Not to me, anyway. Therefore, in my eyes, it just doesn't work at all. 

The typeface for the movie title is a very odd choice, but it doesn't look too good. Big, bold, with slightly uneven edges with thick and thin sides, yes, but here the font choice makes the title look sloppy. & yet strangely, it gives off a child-like, kiddie, family- friendly vibe as well. 

With regards to the second poster, the one other thing the designers got right was the tagline: 'All she said was ''my son is yours''. Unfortunately, she said it to both of them.'  I actually quite liked that. It's amusing, but this tagline also suggests the dilemma faced by both Dale and Jack; as they try to figure out who is, as well as who isn't the father. 

That being said, I just think that design-wise, overall it is very poor; the importance of movie poster designs are crucial in terms of sending the right message out to the audience and in making them want to go out and see the movie. And here, the designers just never managed to make that message clear and concise. The font employed in the movie title doesn't visually compliment the portrait shots of Robin and Billy. I know the movie received negative reviews (not forgetting it skipped a theatrical release in the UK and went straight-to-video instead), but honestly, had it received a better poster design, it still might have attracted a bigger audience and made more profit at the box office.  

It just doesn't leave much to the imagination. 


My revamped Fathers' Day movie poster design for the UK & US market by Waiching


About my concept: at first, I was thinking of getting rid of the tie theme and connotation as I thought it never made much sense to begin with, and that it wouldn't have made much sense to other people. Yet on second thoughts, after doing a search on Google on Father's Day and the tie, it seems that there is a correlation between the tie and the father's day occasion itself, so I changed my mind and decided to keep the tie theme. But the main aim for me, what with this movie and that the plot and story is relatively unknown, was that I wanted to focus on the main words and emphasize them a bit, to make it clear and succinct to the audience. 

I will now go into detail about each element of the poster design and explain my decisions and reasons behind each one of them:

1) ''If you enjoyed Mork and Mindy and Mrs Doubtfire....'' >> I thought I would add my comment on the movie as a quote & a reason for people to watch it. Also, when s/he reads it, and if they have heard of or seen either or both of Mork and Mindy and/or Mrs Doubtfire, they can see or make a correlation to, as well as some of the resemblances that those movies share in common. One being they are all different forms of comedies, despite that they are all set in different universes (Mork and Mindy more-so as it is set in both late 70s and early 80s ) & have different settings, plots and themes. Mork and Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire >> Robin Williams >> Fathers' Day. Plus, almost everyone - or be it anyone who was alive and around during the 1970s and/or 1990s, in particular - has heard of Mrs Doubtfire and Mork & Mindy, because they are two of his most popular and well-known projects he has starred and appeared in. 

2) listing the names of movies they have appeared in >> a) it gives the audience an idea of what type of movie they expect it to be (even though the trailer failed (& tried to do this)) and b) I didn't list their works for the sake of Robin and Billy starring in them: I chose works that were huge hits for them and for which, people can easily link back to, identify and make comparisons with, as they are virtually similar & they are all comedies. So when s/he reads them, especially fans of Robin's and Billy's comedy movies, they'd go 'ooh, I'd take a look at Fathers' Day'

3) movie tagline >> 'one insane writer, one sane lawyer': without giving too much of the plot, it states the occupation of the two main characters. As well as this, 'Insane' refers to the character of Dale (played by Robin Williams) who is mentally unstable and 'Sane' refers to the character of Jack (Billy Crystal), who is mentally stable. 

4) 'So who's the daddy?' >> usually uttered as a slang expression in the form of a rhetorical question, 'who's the daddy?' boastfully claims one's dominance over the other person/s. Here, we have 'who's the daddy?' but in this poster, it is used in a way to question who the real father is between Dale and Jack. 

5) stuffed teddy bear with missing eye >> this worn out, stuffed teddy bear signifies childhood and two things: a) the son Scott, who has run away from home and b) the theme of happiness. It may signify the protagonist, Dale: the sweet, gentle, kindhearted individual, who is also mentally and emotionally troubled. 

6) Fathers' Day logo title >> I wasn't keen on the font choice for the original movie title, and so I went for big and bold, but keeping it simple and legible. The font I used for the 'Fathers' Day' title for my poster is called 'Grilled Cheese'. But also as it's a comedy movie, this is a style that has fun undertones to it & to denote the film's wackiness. I also added an image of a tie to signify fatherhood and being a dad. 

7) 'From the director of Ghostbusters and Animal House...' >> the original design lacked any real details & reasons as to why people should go out and see this movie, buy the DVD. By stating the director's previously most successful works of the past, this would've further boosted the promotion of Fathers' Day. Ghostbusters and Animal House are two of Ivan Reitman's most well-known popular hit movies and having just the names of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal alone, just isn't enough. 

8) Billing Block/movie and cast & crew credits at the bottom 

9) USA and UK movie classification ratings at bottom left hand corner

10) Warner Bros. Pictures text and logo at bottom right hand corner >> Instead of using an image of the Warner Bros Pictures logo from Google search, I used a dingbat titled 'Warner Logo Font Nine', which has a Warner Bros. logo/symbol and is generated by using the capital letter 'W'. 

11) Colour scheme >> mainly Dark Blue, White and Black. I simply reversed the colours from the original poster around. Couldn't be bothered to add a background colour to the poster, so I left it White.   

12) Using an alternative promotional image of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal >> I liked this one much better than the official and original promotional image that was used for the DVD cover and poster, so I thought I'd use this one instead. 


Sources:



The 5 Elements of A Great Movie Poster Design - Imagine Nation Photography 

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