Friday, November 14, 2008

When Bad Posters Strike: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

[hi-res version hopefully coming soon]

A quick glance at the resumes of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett respectively will prove that neither is as big a box office draw as people may expect. Pitt has the "Hollywood star!" thing and Blanchett is a perennial Oscar favourite, but for every Mr & Mrs Smith there is a Babel or a Seven Years in Tibet that proves he is far more bankable internationally than in his home country. Etc, really, no need to further prove it.

And so we come to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a movie I - and many others on the film/oscar-watching circuit - am anticipating A LOT. It comes with a fascinating central plot, and this is of a man who is born at age 80 and regresses through life and the movie, seemingly, follows him through all 80 years. That's a lot of ground to cover. That's also a lot of ground for inspiration.

And so you're a key art designer and given the job of designing a piece of poster art for a movie with that plot and this is what you produce? Perhaps it was a case of there being too many ideas that were "abstract" and they decided to go with the simplest (read: blandest) design, but it's just plain boring. That the film is anticipated by many is not up for discussion, but what about all the people who don't quake in their boots at the thought of a new David Fincher movie - another director who doesn't have the instant box office appeal of a Scorsese or so on. Zodiac didn't even make $40mil at the US box office and, according to reports, Benjamin Button has cost upwards of $150mil... so what about this poster is going to get millions and millions of extra people to show up?

If I hadn't have heard of this movie before I would not be excited at all. I'd be saying "oh look, Brad Pitt's in a movie. Maybe I'll go see [nondescript holiday movie #2040458z] instead!"

And before you chime in with cries of "who cares what the poster looks like, it's the movie that matters!", well, the poster is what gets people into the movie and considering Pitt and Blanchett's non-appeal at the box office (The Assassination of Jesse James didn't exactly set the world on fire did it, and that had a poster with a big Brad Pitt shot front and centre) I just think they're going to need to do something a bit more elaborate and, yes, risky to set it apart.


redison said...

Cannot wait for this movie (most anticipated for a while now...), but could wait eons before I ever see that poster again. The reverse title is interesting, but ultimately stupid, because anyone who doesn't know what the movie is about is going go "WTF?" and presume that the movie is going to involve some thinking, and the majority of earth's population have put thinking on a permanent back-burner. :/ boooo.

Guy said...

Yeah, it's a yawner, isn't it? The worst part -- for its banality as well as the fact that's appalling design -- is the "Life" running forwards and backward.

I mean, could they have chosen anything more generic to try and encapsulate the film? All films are about "life," for Christ's sake.

Must. Try. Harder.