Classy Movie, Third-Rate Advertising: ‘It’s a Train Smash’

It’s a sure bet that The King’s Speech will snag Colin Firth a second Academy Award nomination (after last year’s A Single Man), and the historical drama will probably get Oscar nods in other categories as well. It’s as widely acclaimed by critics as a motion picture can be. So why would it be promoted with such an abysmal poster?

The display in question looks as if it was slapped together in 15 minutes – a half-hour, tops. Someone pathed around the stars’ likenesses in Photoshop, did simple copy and paste commands to put them in front of a cloudy backdrop, and that’s about it. The result is what looks like three life-size cardoard cutouts posed in a Walmart portrait studio. It’s the sort of slapdash quality you would expect for a direct-to-DVD Shannon Tweed movie, not a big-time Oscar contender.

Think I’m being harsh? Well, the film’s director agrees with me. “I hate it,” Tom Hooper told Movieline. “I hate it,” he repeated. “And it is not going to ever be on any cinema walls. It will be replaced. It’s a train smash.” (I guess Brits say “train smash” instead of “train wreck,” or is it just an affectation of Hooper’s?)

Hooper said the mess “will be replaced very quickly with a very good poster.” That will have to be done quickly indeed, as the movie’s set for wide release in just a few weeks.

There’s no Oscar for poster design, but it is an important part of the movie business. A good poster can help greatly in letting the world know you’ve got an interesting cinematic treat, or fooling the world into thinking there’s a quality movie. It’s a public announcement, or lie, that there’s good stuff ahead.

I’ve noticed some impressive posters this year, including the eye-catching campaigns for Kick-Ass and Clash of the Titans. I like the ones I’ve seen for this weekend’s Morning Glory and Unstoppable; they’ve succeeded in getting me interested in what I gather are two rather pedestrian Hollywood products.

A good movie poster should have some details specific to the movie, but not too much. It should give the potential ticket-buyer an idea of what the movie is about, and what kind of flick has been made. Is it a comedy? A drama? A shoot-’em-up? You should be able to tell with a quick glance.

Above all, there should be something about it that catches people’s attention and suggests quality.

The first poster for The King’s Speech fails at doing that. Instead, it bores. We are not amused. Well, actually, we are. But for the wrong reasons.

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Copyright 2010 MadMikesAmerica
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Posted by on November 12, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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6 Responses to Classy Movie, Third-Rate Advertising: ‘It’s a Train Smash’

  1. Holte Ender

    November 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I agree about the poster, Bonham-Carter looks like she is doing something with Firth’s pants and Rush looks like he approves.

    I have read good things about the movie from around the festivals and it seems like they poured money into travel and nothing into artistic design.

  2. Will "take no prisoners" Hart

    November 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I don’t care if it’s a good movie or a bad one. If Helena Bonham Carter’s in it, I AM THERE!

  3. Jess

    November 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    If Colin Firth is one of the main characters I’ll go watch it, regardless of what the poster looks like. Single Man was an excellent and moving story by the way. If you guys haven’t seen it yet, go rent it or get it on demand if you can, from your cable provider.

    • Stimpson

      November 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      “When I look in the mirror I see not so much a face as the expression of a predicament.” Or something like that.

      • Jess

        November 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm

        My favorites with him are Bridget Jones, Pride and Prejudice,Valmont, Importance of being Earnest, What a girls wants. Oh you know what, everything he has done is good in my book and that basically covers it. Him and Johnny Depp could read the phone book and I would sit and watch it.

  4. A Michael J. Scott

    November 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    That is rather an abysmal poster…