5 Inspiring Movie Poster Designs for your Next Project

Like any other poster design, a good movie poster grabs the viewer’s attention and stands the test of time. They go beyond than just marketing by ingraining themselves into pop culture and becoming a fundamental part of any film’s legacy. Whatever design project you have in mind, here are five movie poster designs we hope will inspire.

Vertigo (1958)

Created by legendary graphic designer Saul Bass, the poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo perfectly conveys the film’s premise: An ex-police officer who suffers from an intense fear of heights is hired to prevent an old friend’s wife from committing suicide, but all is not as it seems. A pioneer of film-title sequences and poster design, Bass’s work on Vertigo is an integral part of the film’s legacy. With it’s hand-drawn typography—a throwback to 1920s era German expressionist films—the design was based on a simplified two-colour process that uses hand-cut lettering against a bright orange backdrop. Utilizing spiral motifs, Vertigo’s poster is complex, yet hypnotically simple, and was later used as the inspiration for the posters behind Burn After Reading (2008) and Buried (2010).

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Hailed as one of the greatest horror films of all time, Rosemary’s Baby follows a young woman who comes to believe that her baby is not from this world. This moody movie poster by designer Stephen Frankfurt perfectly conveys the dread and anxiety that characterizes the film. By contrasting an uneasy looking Mia Farrow with an isolated baby carriage, the surrounding blank space implies that there is something lurking in the darkness. This very same poster design was most recently used for last year’s horror film Mother!

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange is one of the most controversial movies of all time, a landmark in the relaxation of control on violence in cinema, and of course—one of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces. With the film’s lead character Alex (Malcolm McDowell) leaping out at you with a shining blade, a floating eyeball alluding to his infamous “treatment” in the film, an eye-popping title, not to mention a slogan that perfectly captures the disturbing nature of the premise, this multi-dimensional poster by Philip Castle and Bill Gold is as iconic as the film itself.

The Thing (1982)

Drew Struzan’s work on Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Goonies, and The Shawshank Redemption is among the most iconic movie poster designs. However one poster of his that stands out in particular is for the 1982 horror classic The Thing. Allowing the viewer’s imagination to run amok by only hinting at what The Thing is, this poster features a figure dressed up in a snow outfit (Struzan himself) with energy beaming out of its face. Created overnight—and with next to no guidelines from Universal Studios—all Struzan had to work with was the title of the movie. ”…I came up with the concept, did a Polaroid of me in costume, faxed it to them. I worked on it all night, and at 9 a.m. there was a knock on the door. It was the delivery guy; I handed it over to him, and that was that.” Talk about improvising.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Inspired by the shocking and exploitative pulp magazines of the first half of the 20th century, the poster for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a testament to the film’s effortlessly cool neo-noir thrills and dark humor. Designed by James Verdesoto, the poster design is a love letter to pulp magazine covers—complete with retro fonts, a ten cent price tag, cover creases, wrinkles, and not to mention Uma Thurman’s femme fatale character. No wonder this poster found itself on walls everywhere following the film’s mid-nineties release—it’s that cool.

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