Friday, November 16, 2012

Spanish Poster for 'Gangster Squad' Beats Ours to Pieces

I say it over and over. Foreign/international posters for our movies are almost always better than domestic versions. The new sheets for 'Gangster Squad' bear that out...again.

Here's one of the latest (U.S.) character posters.

Nothing wrong with it but pretty generic, flat. Here's the latest (Spanish language) poster.

Works nicely. Dynamic layout. Captures the energy of the time. Has a dangerous soap opera 40s noir feel. I like the smoke in the upper left.

Above poster draws you in better than the domestic version (below) which resorts to big flames to stoke interest but just looks posed.

Graphically, the domestic sheet is jangly. The central image (the big fire) looks out of place. Figure in lower right is of a different scale than the rest and is placed too far in the corner. (The scale is not different enough -- she is not smaller than the rest by enough. See above Spanish poster for the correct way to do this. The four men in lower right corner are much smaller than the rest of the group, while Sean Penn is much larger than the rest. This works. In the domestic sheet Emma Stone just looks odd. Unfortunate).

The sky in the domestic poster is wrong -- it should be plain (without clouds) or have a deeply saturated sunset, or perhaps solid black (like the background in the Spanish poster). The title is too big and the font lacks elegance (compare to the above rendition). The fact that the letters are so large makes it necessary to push the fire triangle up too far (it's dead center, which is almost always off limits. Nothing goes in the center, usually. Again, see above Spanish poster for the correct way. There's nothing in the center. There is only negative space, which makes you look elsewhere for content, and that creates a visual dynamic).

Also, the hot colors of the fire don't match the smooth air-brushed quality of the faces. Again, see above. Spanish poster color/contrast characteristics match corner to corner.

This has a 40s sensibility, yes, but in a hammed-up way. It almost looks like the movie is a parody of the style. Tonally, it's hard to take seriously, hard to feel the gravitas they were going for. There's no flow, nothing which pulls the viewer into the story, and the layout is clunky at best.

I don't know why but international posters beat ours. Theirs are more intense and artistic and have better design while ours tend to be coarse, utilitarian and, if we're lucky, non-engaging.


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