The Color of Top Grossing Movies.
September 12, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

The Color of Top Grossing Movies. A movie’s theatrical poster is only a very small part of the larger marketing and hype machine that turns movies into spectacular blockbusters, but as part of a whole, they are fairly representative of the “image” of any given movie. So, as an exercise in color trends, and to see if any significant pattern emerged, I decided to break down the colors of 25 posters — the top 5 of each MPAA category.
posted by brain_drain (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
You forgot the tag "toomuchfreetime"
posted by mrnutty at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2007


This post would be more interesting if the author analyzed the color content of movie trailers/commercials. Who learns about movies from their posters anymore?

Assuming that posters do matter, or, more likely, that they are representative of the video ads for these movies, it's interesting that PG content ignores the dark/fleshtone precedent, while G jumps right back to fleshtone.
posted by tylermoody at 11:52 AM on September 12, 2007


There isn’t a hard lesson to be learned from this, or a groundbreaking discovery to brag about...

In other words....meh.
posted by DU at 11:52 AM on September 12, 2007


Bizaree. I'll go with too much free time, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:52 AM on September 12, 2007


Who learns about movies from their posters anymore?

Oh ye of little faith in liberal arts study... Design is relevant, or it wouldn't cost so much, now would it?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, I never get the whole "too much free time" thing; what the hell is everyone else doing with their free time that's so important? Watching TV? Cleaning their ovens? Masturbating?

This is mildly good. This person gets a taupe star for the day. I am semi-proud of his possibly-useless work.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:02 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Masturbating?

Well, yeah, but don't tell my boss. I'm supposed to be working.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Too much free time" usually (and in this case for me) means "not what I would do in my free time", or perhaps "would rather masturbate"
posted by mrnutty at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2007


In space no one can hear you browse.
posted by notyou at 12:14 PM on September 12, 2007


This would've been better if he'd analyzed 50 posters.
posted by Poolio at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2007


That's why I write for free. No pay, no sense.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2007


Yeah, it's meh and all because it turned up the expected: nothing. (I mean other than the color chart, which is pretty)

But what if there had been some crazy-ass cool correlation that no one had ever noticed?

Sometimes you have to do weird projects like this, just for the sake of Science!
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]



Well, yeah, but don't tell my boss. I'm supposed to be working.

posted by quonsar at 12:27 PM on September 12, 2007


Design is relevant, or it wouldn't cost so much, now would it?

Um, that makes it relevant to the marketing budget. It doesn't necessarily demonstrate any importance in any other arena.
posted by dersins at 12:28 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Relevant to how we parse images into meaning.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2007


quin: exactly!

Negative results are still results.
posted by mrnutty at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2007


I'd go with not enough free time. 25 movies isn't really a big enough sample. So far all she's shown is that cartoons use bright colours. Still, its kind of a neat way of looking at things.

...it's interesting that PG content ignores the dark/fleshtone precedent, while G jumps right back to fleshtone.

This is more indicative of Shrek using a lot of dirty jokes for an animated movie than anything about poster design. If you bring in the top 20, you'd get a few more Star Wars and Harry Potter movies to bring them back into line.
posted by Gary at 12:37 PM on September 12, 2007


This poster got me super excited about the movie. Only to be completely disappointed at having another childhood dream ruined.
posted by quadog at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2007


meh.
posted by mike3k at 12:45 PM on September 12, 2007


Am I the only one who immediately thought of this?
posted by gatorae at 1:21 PM on September 12, 2007


This poster got me super excited...

Yeah, my best friend still has that one on the back of his bedroom door. Every once in awhile he'll look at it and say something about how at least the poster held potential.
posted by M Edward at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2007


Well, I thought the post was a nice display of information, even its the author won't be remembered among the pantheon of great scientific minds.
Thanks brain_drain.
posted by Hadroed at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2007


Well, I thought the post was a nice display of information, even its the author won't be remembered among the pantheon of great scientific minds.

Also, I'm mostly illiterate which is why I like pretty posts about colors.
posted by Hadroed at 2:34 PM on September 12, 2007


dumb idea. pretty colors though!
posted by blacklite at 2:49 PM on September 12, 2007


I think if the sample were much larger, we'd see some trends for sure. Maybe the kind of comparison that takes the mean of the colors and shapes on each poster for the last 50 years, a la that centerfold composite project.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:48 PM on September 12, 2007


Here's some movie poster analysis I can, uh, get behind.
posted by crossoverman at 4:25 PM on September 12, 2007


Actually this sample is all you need because it is taken from the top grossing films in each rating category. And the information is completely legit. One sheets have used this scheme for years. Next time you're in Blockbuster check out the dvd box designs in each category. They are very similar.
posted by Rashomon at 5:06 PM on September 12, 2007


Showgirls is one of the top grossing movies of all time?
posted by fshgrl at 8:38 PM on September 12, 2007


It is when you consider how few NC-17 movies come out, fshgrl. It's a pretty small market.
posted by quin at 8:41 PM on September 12, 2007


Red is not funny.
posted by markdj at 3:45 AM on September 13, 2007


Relevant to how we parse images into meaning.

I liked it better before you clarified.

Design costs a lot because people think it's relevant. The relevant relationship between the ability of a design to communicate and its cost is strictly limited to how well the design communicates to the people who approve payment. (What it communicates to them is a whole different discussion.)

Whether, what, and how well the design actually communicates with audiences doesn't have any direct relationship with cost. In many cases, there will be no relationship at all.
posted by lodurr at 5:32 AM on September 13, 2007


White is funny.
posted by jca at 6:59 AM on September 13, 2007


I thought this was fascinating. Thanks for posting it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:52 PM on September 13, 2007


I'd imagine four out of five artists would recommend using black as your background if you want the rest of the information on your poster to stand out and be noticed faster. That'd be for any movie you want taken even remotely seriously. Comedies and cartoons, you'd want a brighter cheery predominant color. If you want the viewer's eyes to linger, you'd use welcoming blues or earth tones. Take the Shrek poster for example. This is like Commercial Art 101 stuff.

As others in this thread have said, even if nothing is found. it's not necessarily a waste of research. I also concur that twenty-five is not enough of a sampling. Considering how many posters come out a year, and the number of years posters have been made, we'd need far more data before any serious determinants could be submitted.

You'd also have to separate the findings by more than just ratings. Geography, intended audience, printing processes, big studio versus independent outfit, genre, marketing company, societal factors at time of printing, perhaps even director and actor parameters would have to be entertained and that last one alone would be painstaking. Imagine comparing all of Jimmy Stewart's posters to all of Tom Hanks'. Would we see trends? Similarities? Contrasts? Nothing at all?

Just because there's no noticeable trends after 25 posters doesn't necessarily mean anything. Ater two hundred and fifty even, there's no certainty anything significant would come up. I would imagine too, that just looking at the color schemes would not be enough to tell trends. One would need to interview people who make movie posters their business. Those who make them, those who use them, and those who are consumers of film and therefore make decisions based on movie posters.

Then again, do we even know the percentage of movie goers who actually use movie posters as a determinant factor? I'm personally of the opinion that any correlation between profitability and purchased television commercial time must be coincidental. However, I've no way to prove it.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:58 PM on September 13, 2007


ZachsMind, to put a flip on what you've said: What we get with this methodology is a window into the mind of the marketing teams for the most theatrically-successful movies. [Maybe. Not exactly sure whether their gross is total or theatrical.]

As I've noted, the poster really doesn't give you any insight into the mindset of the viewer; I think that's one of the things you're getting at when you note that it's not likely a lot of people are using the poster as their selection tool. It's only really a valid sample ot the extent that the entire marketing effort has common creative direction.
posted by lodurr at 4:01 AM on September 14, 2007


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