Whether you're sitting at home trying to decide what to watch on Netflix or standing in the lobby of a cinema like some sort of caveman, movie posters are important. You've probably stared at thousands of posters over the course of your life before deciding that, fuck it, you're just gonna watch Hot Shots! Part Deux again. We've all been there.
That's why we're always surprised when we notice that famous actors tend to do the exact same oddly specific things in almost every single one of their posters, for reasons that are beyond the comprehension of common mortals like us. For example ...
Much like Van Halen and their bowl of M&M's, Nicolas Cage must have a clause in his contract stating that he won't appear in any movie that doesn't have fire on its poster. You'll also notice that in all these cases, the fire is either behind Cage or below him, and that he never looks at the fire.
Speaking of Drive Angry, exploding vehicles are a recurring motif in Cage's oeuvre. Sometimes he's behind an exploding car ...
... and sometimes he's running away from it, like that time he starred in a re-enactment of Taken.
In Con Air, he's depicted above a plane trying to lift off in the middle of an explosion ...
... and in Knowing, he's standing alone in the middle of the resulting wreckage.
In Lord of War, he plays an arms dealer, a job that according to the poster consists of literally selling explosions to people.
Now, we'll admit that there are certain cases where it's somewhat justified, like when his character's head is literally on fire.
But then you have cases where we don't even remember that many things actually being on fire in the film itself, but they still set the poster aflame anyway:
And finally there's The Wicker Man, the Nicolas Cagest of all movies, in which Cage didn't bother to show up for the poster at all. He was probably supposed to be running away from that fire or something, but without him in the way, we finally get a pure, unobstructed view of the blaze:
You've probably noticed that Zooey Deschanel seems to play pretty much the same character in every movie she does, like a whiter, quirkier Samuel L. Jackson. She usually portrays a free-spirited, unconventional girl who does whatever she wants -- so it's a little bit ironic that her posters keep trying to put her in boxes. Literally.
It seems that Zooey's quirkiness is a force that must be contained lest it spill over to the rest of the poster and infect the other actors, so they started boxing her off right from the beginning of her film career -- she's been put in boxes in the posters for Mumford and Manic, and she doesn't seem very happy about it.
This tendency continued in her movies Live Free or Die and The Go-Getter, but something happened -- her disruptive influence has shaken up the position of her boxes and those around her. She's breaking free!
It became clear that boxes were no longer enough -- Zooey had to be contained at all costs.
They eventually figured out a solution in (500) Days of Summer, where the entire marketing campaign consisted of trapping Zooey Deschanel in increasingly smaller boxes until she finally disappears.
Either Owen Wilson is obsessive-compulsive about colors matching or he's trying to blend into the background of his posters like a chameleon. It started all the way back in the military drama Behind Enemy Lines and continues in his present day comedies.
For Midnight in Paris, he even wore yellow pants and a blue shirt to match the Van Gogh painting used in the background -- they tried a Picasso first, but Wilson's body parts kept painfully shifting place.
But still, this is clearly a deliberate aesthetic choice -- it's not like he actually has mutant powers that allow him to blend into any environment, right? Except that, even when there are more people in the poster, he's the only one who matches the background.
A red, black, and white jacket in Starsky & Hutch, a blue shirt in Hall Pass, and a green coat in The Darjeeling Limited (the beige shirt is probably a printing error). And then there's the poster for How Do You Know:
Now, that's impressive. Here we have four characters: two who don't match the background at all, one who is vaguely in the same color family, and then Wilson, who appears to be wearing a shirt made out of the curtain he's standing in front of.
This just makes us appreciate Wilson's accomplishments even more: It must be hard to get noticed in Hollywood when your greatest talent is to not get noticed. This might explain why they snubbed him and he didn't even appear in the posters for the Night at the Museum movies.
But wait a minute ... who's that down there, wearing an outfit matching practically every color in the poster's shifting background?
When you're an internationally adored actor, it's hard not to become a bit vain. When you're also Batman, it's impossible. Case in point: Christian Bale knows which one of his eyes is more attractive, and that's the one he wants to appear in all his movie posters.
Seriously, the dude has something against his left eye and has apparently banned it from promotional appearances. It's not like this is the result of a Tom Cruise-like obsession with only showing his face from a certain angle, because Bale has employed many different eye-hiding techniques over the years, from covering it in shadows (as seen above) to just turning his head.
It doesn't matter if he's fighting robots in the future ...
... performing magic tricks in the 18th century ...
... starring in serious historical dramas ...
... or singing and dancing in while delivering newspapers ...
... he'll only let us see one eye. Wait, is the other side of his face horribly disfigured? Do they have to digitally alter it in movies?
Catherine Zeta-Jones has a lot to be proud of, physically. But if there's one feature she values above all else, that's her right hip, so she makes damn sure you notice it.
Entrapment and Chicago are two of her most famous movies, but Zeta-Jones has been drawing attention to her right hip for a long time; she's been doing it from her earliest roles (the little seen Blue Juice) to her most recent ones (the little seen Rock of Ages).
Perhaps figuring that the audience has seen enough of her hip by now, in the poster for Intolerable Cruelty, she tries to get George Clooney to look at it. You might think he's doing a great job resisting her charms, but the universal "hiding a boner" posture gives away the fact that he has at least peeked at it.
As you can see, she usually accomplishes her objective by standing like her spine is severely dislocated, but the poster for The Rebound proves that she can even manage to do it while sitting.
Granted, it's a nice hip (way nicer than any of ours), but there's just so much more to be proud of, Catherine. We don't know why she's so insecure about this. Even the cartoon version of her in Sinbad is oddly enamored with that particular part of her pelvis.
But she isn't the only one who benefits from this. The makers of The Legend of Zorro were aware that Zeta-Jones' hip works like a black hole that sucks attention, which is probably why they decided to position the movie's logo in such a strategic place.
Kevin Spacey has been appearing in movies since the 1980s, but he hit it big with The Usual Suspects in 1995, the posters for which featured him and the other characters standing in a police lineup -- which made sense, because that scene is actually in the movie.
However, the poster was so iconic that almost every movie Spacey has done since then ...
... has been trying to put him in some type of lineup ...
... even if it requires literally drawing lines between the characters. Also, note that the following (sacrilegious) poster is the only one where Spacey isn't in the first or second spot.
Some movies even hark back to the whole criminal aspect from The Usual Suspects by making Kevin Spacey stand around with a bunch of tough guys in leather jackets.
Other times, they try to shake things up by putting him in a vertical line instead of a horizontal one ...
... or just changing the angle to form a diagonal one.
Natalie Portman has gone through a strange evolution in her movie posters. Usually, actors develop their skills by learning to express a more varied range of emotions, but she's gone in the opposite direction. Early in her career, she smiled all the time -- there always seemed to be something to her right that she found incredibly amusing.
Portman first started getting some respect as an actor in Closer, which has a poster that required all the actors to look straight ahead and get as serious as possible. So she dropped the smile for this one, but you could still sort of see some trace of mischievousness in her face.
However, Portman's real turning point was V for Vendetta, where they must have taken 200 different photos before they finally reached the point where she just wanted to go home, as evidenced by the completely bored and emotionless way she's looking at us.
Somehow, this worked out pretty well for her, so she's been doing ...
... the exact same bored face ...
... in every movie since.
And this doesn't just happen in serious dramas -- Thor and Your Highness are a superhero film and a medieval stoner comedy, respectively, and she still gave us the blank face. This is made even more baffling by the fact that she's never used that expression in the movies themselves. Maybe she just fucking hates doing posters.
You know how they say that Tom Cruise is secretly a short person, but you never notice it in his movies? Well, we're convinced that Sean Connery is the opposite -- he's actually the size of the Empire State Building, and the studios have been spending millions of dollars using special effects to make him look like a normal-sized person. At first, we just chalked this up to James Bond and his tendency to attract tiny women who sit on his shoulders.
But no, Sean Connery looks like a giant in movies of all types, from The Avengers to Zardoz.
In fact, it looks like Connery has only gotten bigger over the years. Here we see him towering over a nuclear submarine, an airplane, Catherine Zeta-Jones' hip, and the entire New York skyline:
Yes, Sean Connery is bigger than an entire city -- the tiny version of him you see on the Finding Forrester poster is actually his cosmic herald, who scouts the universe searching for planets for Connery to devour. And if you think these are just perspective tricks or something, several posters make sure to include other actors as well just to point out that they are but ants next to Connery.
The only instance we could find where someone is bigger than Connery in a poster is Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where they presumably used photo trickery to make Ford appear larger because he's technically the star of the movie.
But look at Connery's face there -- he's pissed. He's clearly thinking, "I'll show that whippersnapper." And sure enough, Connery got them to include a second, actual-sized version of Ford right below him. Just to set the record straight.
J.F. Sargent does the Twitter and the Tumblr every now and again. Gabe likes email, and always does the same things on Twitter and the online radio station he DJs for. Kier Harris has a Twitter, and you can send him your kidneys via email.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see David Wong's best Blue Steel.
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