Monday, January 13, 2014

Foreign Frozen: Why France got better posters than us

Even a month after its release during of the busiest times of year, especially for movies, Disney's "Frozen" still continues to put its competition on ice.  

This past weekend however, a friend of mine asked why Europe got better posters for this film than we did here in the states. 

Heres what they used to advertise to cinemas in France:

And here are the posters primarily used in America:

These foreign posters reminded me of the teaser posters made by the late great John Alvin, who became synonymous with the Disney Renaissance of the1990s. His work was simply alluring, using silhouettes and negative space to build these stories in your imagination long before you ever saw them come to life on screen.

Heres just a small sample of the kinds of images he produced for Disney. (Click to enlarge)

Even when Alvin wasn't directly involved with creating the poster, the people in charge of making them were likely told to mimic his style.

This trend left an impact on a generation of movie goers, so it was no surprise that it made a comeback when the company was looking to return to the fairy tale features with big musical numbers for the big screen again. Just compare this poster for Mermaid based on a sketch by John Alvin, to the poster used as the primary promotional piece for Princess.


However, times have changed, and so has how movies are marketed. Now domestic posters showcase their characters in full view, looking directly at the audience, often with a raised eyebrow to emphasis "Hey you". Playing up the comedy angle to let you know this is going to be a feel good kind of movie. There are no secrets or surprises in this campaign. What you see is what you get.

This formula has been very successful thus far, as you can see in these examples:

Marketing has sort of a Pavlovian effect and since lots of people saw these movies and recognized them for their quality, it makes sense that the marketing team made an effort to bring audiences back again with the same kind of format from something that they liked before.

 Both styles of posters have their place, and I'm glad to see that the tradition is alive and well elsewhere.  


  1. Great post. I have never seen you use so many images before. I like to see any of this kind of gorgeous artwork and I forgot all about Bolt like maybe I was suppose to all along.

    1. Thanks Kal! Since I use this blog for business as well as pleasure it can be a tough balancing act between posting my own stuff and gushing about artists that I admire. I figured I could justify so many images if I framed it as an editorial.

      Bolt was okay, but unless you're an animal lover I don't know that it has that much staying power. If nothing else its likely to be the last film Miley Cyrus did to be associated with "family" entertainment.

  2. These are awesome. Having worked at a movie theater for quite some time I've built up quite the collection of posters. The Treasure Planet poster is one of my favorites. And that Frozen one with a Thanksgiving release date is amazing.

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it.

      I'm envious what a vast collection that much be.

      Treasure Planet is one of my guilty pleasures. It was the first movie I saw when I was in college studying art history and got a real kick out of the references to classic American styles and artists like N.C. Wyeth.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...