Top 5 Movie Posters

Rory Kelly RGD shares a list of his top 5 favourite movie posters


Having spent a year in College studying Film & Television Production before ultimately deciding to migrate to Advertising & Graphic Design, I’ve always had a particular interest in the art and design that goes into the production (particularly post-production) of motion pictures. Since movie posters (often referred to as one sheets) are at the exact intersection of where film production meets advertising and graphic design, I thought to try to offer a list of my all time favourites. With so many incredible posters out there, getting down to a top 5 was more difficult than I anticipated.


Here are the ones that have always stood out for me.

1. Chinatown

The poster for this 1974 neo-noir mystery directed by Roman Polanski is regarded with almost as much acclaim as the movie itself. Starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway; and widely accepted as one of the greatest films of all time, its story was inspired by the California Water Wars that occurred during the early 20th century. The poster was produced by a team at the Deiner-Hauser Bates Agency, a subsidiary of Ted Bates Worldwide and one of the first true entertainment advertising agencies. The illustrator for this poster was Jim Pearsall. Though much of his work was featured in advertising for major theatre productions, this poster is perhaps what he is best known for.


2. Back To The Future

Drew Struzan is the artist behind this iconic poster for the 1985 modern-classic directed by Robert Zemeckis. It’s almost impossible to put together a list of top movie posters without considering the work of Drew Struzan. A legend in the field, he is the artist behind over 150 iconic posters whose realistic style helped to define the tone of the adventure/sci-fi film genre of the 1980’s and 90’s. Equally as impossible as putting together a list like this without considering Struzan is the task of selecting a favourite among them. The image of Marty McFly stepping out of the DeLorean to checking his watch atop the infamous flaming tire tread is (for me at least) the most memorable singular image of any movie poster.


3. Bulworth

This 1998 political satire/comedy stars Warren Beatty who plays Jay Bulworth, a Senator facing career and financial ruin who embarks on an uninhibited journey of personal and spiritual renewal. Though Beatty also co-wrote, co-produced and directed the film, he didn’t design the poster. And I’m glad he didn’t; for that he turned to one of my all-time favourite illustrators Steve Brodner. Known for his masterful editorial and political satire work, the style and tone of Brodner’s artwork matches perfectly with that of the film.


4. Pulp Fiction

James Verdesoto of the Indika Entertainment Agency is the lead designer behind this compelling poster for the ground breaking 1993 Tarantino film. There are so many compelling aspects to this poster that it’s hard to figure out what to mention first. The poster immediately draws you in. Sure, Uma Thurman’s captivating gaze does all the initial work; but the objects we see next to her (the gun, book and cigarette pack) add further interest, perhaps offering subtle hints about the tone of the film. The poster is beautifully art directed as well. Designed to look like a well-worn cover of a piece of pulpfiction (complete with cover creases and a 10 cent price tag) the elements play perfectly with the film’s title. There’s also a nice sense of depth here, with the photocomposition having and almost 3D effect making us feel as though we’re part of the scene.


5. Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 sci-fi/adventure blockbuster movie adaptation of the 1990 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton is now considered a modernclassic. Tom Martin, a veteran art director who designed thousands of promotional materials for movies over the course of his 30+ year career, designed its poster. Martin was tasked to create a logo that would work to brand both the movie’s fictional theme park and the movie itself. After exploring hundreds of variations Martin and his team looked to the cover of the novel, designed by renowned book cover designer Chip Kidd. An early idea was formed with the cover’s dinosaur skeleton graphic set inside a simple circle enclosure. Martin’s additional contributions were using a classic typeface (Newland) with an inline for a sense of depth and adding a small-silhouetted jungle canopy at the very bottom for a sense of scale. With the logo set against a stark black background and centered above the tagline “An Adventure 65 Million Years In The Making” this is a perfect example of less is more.



Published September 17, 2018