What are Movie Posters? How are they used?

A film poster is used to promote/advertise a film to entice paying customers to see it in a theatre. For different domestic and foreign markets, studios often print many posters of varying sizes and material. They usually have a picture as well as text. 

The key actors’ likenesses are often printed on today’s posters. Illustrations were much more common than photographs prior to the 1980s. The film title is normally in broad lettering on film posters, as are the names of the main actors. It may also include a tagline, the director’s name, character names, the release date, and other relevant information. This is to help potential audiences learn more about the film. 

Where can they be seen?

Film posters can be seen inside and outside of movie theaters, as well as on the street and in stores. The same photographs appear in the film exhibitor’s press-book. It can be used on websites, DVD (and historically VHS) packaging, posters, newspaper and magazine ads, and all other media relevant to the film’s promotion. 

When were movie posters first used?

Since the first public screenings of movies, posters have been in use. They started out as outside placards detailing the schedule of (short) films to be shown inside the hall or theater. Those posters used to depict a film scene or an array of overlaid pictures from many scenes by the early 1900s. 

Other posters also depicted artistic representations of a scene or even the film’s theme, using a number of artistic styles. Due to their known relative scarcity, condition, artist, and art historical significance, film posters have become increasingly sought by art collectors in recent years.

Types of Movie Posters

  • Lobby Cards

Lobby cards are smaller versions of posters, commonly 11*14 in (28 cm 36 cm), but they were also 8 in 10 in (20 cm 25 cm) before 1930. These cards are valuable collectibles, with prices varying according to their age, size, and popularity.

  • Teaser Poster

A teaser poster, also known as an advance poster, is an early promotional film poster. It features a simple picture or design that does not reveal too much about the plot, theme, or characters. The goal is to raise awareness and build excitement for the film. It’s possible to add a tagline. 

  • Character Poster

There may be a series of character posters for a film with an ensemble cast, each featuring a different character from the film. It usually includes the actor’s name or the name of the role he or she is portraying. It may also include a tagline that represents the character’s consistency.

Billing block

The “billing block” is a list of names that appears at the bottom of the official movie poster (or ‘one line,’ as it is known in the film industry). The bottom of Reynold Brown’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) poster, which is reproduced below, has a billing block.

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