New Line Cinema
Dark City is the original high-concept, ambitious movie that critics literally want to have sex with but that the audiences only see as a friend. It starts off as a neo-noir thriller, but as it progresses it reveals itself to actually be a philosophical sci-fi movie about a dying alien race that can reshape reality and is studying the nature of human individuality as a possible means to the survival of their species ...
New Line Cinema
Have you considered "Not being creepy"? It did wonders for me.
... except you aren't supposed to know about the aliens (called the Strangers) until late into the movie. Before then, Dark City plays like a stylistic murder mystery about an amnesiac who thinks he's being framed for killing a bunch of people, and it's precisely that foundation of reality that makes the subsequent sci-fi reveal so powerful and memorable. Someone should really have told the studio that and stopped them from imposing an opening narration on the movie that immediately told everyone about the aliens:
"First there was darkness. Then came the Strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology: the ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning." But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world, seeking a cure for their own mortality."
The narration (which was included in the movie because the initial test audiences were confused by the plot) is removed in the director's cut, but if you saw Dark City in cinemas or standard releases, you mostly knew what to expect from it in the first few minutes. Suddenly the protagonist's confusion over the events that were unfolding around him was no longer shared by the viewers because the movie just told us that, in this world, there are aliens who can change reality. Hell, the main character could suddenly switch races or become an anthropomorphized turnip, and you still wouldn't bat an eye because reality-shaping aliens!
New Line Cinema
Who all dress like S&M versions of Lex Luthor for some reason.
What happened to Dark City was like taking Morpheus' exposition about humans living inside a computer, putting it at the beginning of The Matrix, and then asking the audience to still act surprised when horrible stuff starts happening to Keanu Reeves. And once you know none of that stuff is "real," seeing him suffer suddenly isn't as fun to watch anymore.
I'll be the first to admit that I know nothing about art and design. But for all my inexperience, I know I would never design a movie poster centered on the film's surprise ending, because that would be really, really stupid. So imagine my surprise when I found out that my stance on not spoiling the movie on a piece of paper specifically meant to be seen by thousands of people is actually considered almost revolutionary in the design community.
Forget that you've seen the original Planet of the Apes movie. What would you think it was about if you'd seen this poster?
20th Century Fox
"You maniacs! You've ruined it! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
Something about apes taking over the Earth? Humans getting turned into apes? Definitely something about humans, the Earth, and apes. And there's your problem, because as you're probably aware, the ending of Planet of the Apes, where Charlton Heston discovers that he's been on Earth all along and won't actually be sexing up aliens, is one of the most famous plot twists in movie history, but you wouldn't know it by looking at this poster. You can't even blame this on the poster focusing on an iconic scene from the book the movie was based on, like with this poster for the 2013 Carrie remake that clearly shows Carrie wearing a prom dress while covered in blood.
"Anyone have some club soda?"
This spoilerific poster, however, can actually be forgiven here because most people still remember the original story where the main character gets pig blood dumped on her during prom and uses her telekinesis on the school to color-match the walls with her dress. The Planet of the Apes book, on the other hand, had a completely different ending from the movie, which was then given away right there on the poster, similarly to some of these Ender's Game promotional materials:
Again, let's say you've never read any of the Ender books. Look at these posters of a character leading some kind of space attack, and the tagline "This is not a game." Now, if you went into the movie and saw that it revolves around a young boy supposedly taking part in a war simulation against an alien invader, would it really take you long to figure out that the "simulation" was actually real, and that he was in fact leading a real army against a real space invader? Because that is precisely what happens in the novel near the very end, with the explicit purpose of making you put the book down, look into the distance, and go Fuuuuck ...
The same goes for Rocky IV and its poster, which clearly shows a victorious Rocky after he'd assumingly beaten the Soviet super boxer Drago.
It was such a weird choice for a poster because not only did it remove any possible suspense from the movie, it was also so over-the-top patriotic that you'd think Rocky IV ended with Stallone beating Drago, winning the Cold War, and then annexing the USSR as America's 51st state.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance Cracked columnist and editor who's also written for The Huffington Post.