The design of a movie poster quickly and visually gives viewers cues on the genre and experience they will have if they watch the movie.  Movie poster styles and designs are deliberately cannibalized (and parodied by humorous films) leading to an almost rigid visual style for certain genres of films.  In the end it comes down to a need to quickly build of the trust of the movie goer or renter so they will part with their money or reluctance to stray outside the design style for a genre because “Movie X had “$$$” at the box office.”  The demilked blog recently shared a collection of movie poster cliches (

If we see a style repeated over and over again it is because it works. The potential audience knows what type of film they should be getting and the style almost becomes its own brand – the lighting, composition, color choices repeated over time create an almost subliminal response.

How does this help the rest of us?  Next time you open a trade magazine, walk down an aisle in the supermarket or see ads by competitors begin a visual collection and ask yourself what you would need to do differently to stand out.  Then ask yourself if doing so will break assumptions of potential customers in a positive or negative way.