Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lousy American Movie Posters: Part III

Here's the UK poster for 'Knight and Day'.

Again, far better than the US version (below).

What the hell?

It's hard to believe the difference looking between the two. The UK version is elegant and has style. It holds promise of an intelligent exciting story with sexy leads that we can care about. Even the composition is nice -- it fills the frame corner-to-corner. The plain white background doesn't divert attention from the actors, which reinforces the impression that these two people by themselves are good enough reason to see the movie. Even the damn bike looks good.

This poster works. Being as objective as possible, pretend you haven't heard any of the flack this picture is taking, and look at the UK poster. If this one-sheet were the only thing informing your opinion, wouldn't you want to see 'Knight and Day'?

On the other hand, the American version is beyond silly. This thing is an affront. Confusing, unclear. The 60s psychedelic spatter backdrop has nothing to do with the subject, is extremely bold against a black background, and only serves to confuse the viewer. Cruise's knee is almost out of frame, while there is too much negative space behind Diaz.

The poster has Cruise's name first, but it's Diaz who is on the left side. The UK design is correct: Cruise's name on the left, Cruise on the left, Diaz's name on the right, Diaz on the right.

In the American poster, there is no chemistry between the leads (they don't even look at each other). She squats in a most unflattering posture looking like she is in pain -- no surprise as he has his boot heel under her ass. He faces away from her suggesting a distance, even alienation -- you can forget about sexual tension.

Are we so prudish that the suggestive position in the UK version can't be emulated in the American poster?

And, their expressions! What's that supposed to be? Is the material serious or parody? Is it a hard-core action flick or comedic romp. Or, is it schtick along the lines of Austin Powers. We can't tell. Their expressions are a blend of all these. I understand the movie has a mix of tone but the look on their faces is confusing. It's a bit embarrassing. Hard to look at. I don't think they knew what they were selling. By contrast, the expressions in the UK work-up are those of mature, healthy, smart people who, for reasons you must buy a ticket to discover, have found themselves in dire straits which require the use of forceful measures to diffuse. Who wouldn't want to see that?

They look like cool people in the UK poster -- people you might know or want to know. The American poster makes them look like game show hosts who wonder whether the contestant will take what he has already won and go home or RISK IT ALL FOR THE GRAND PRIZE!!!!! The only thing missing is the public service spiel: "How's My Acting? Call 1-800-BAD-ACTOR".

a) What the hell were the marketing people for 'Knight and Day' thinking? and b) Why the hell does Europe get more elegant, fun, and intelligent movie posters (for our own damn movies) than we do?

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