How to design a Hollywood poster: just add sparks


28th November 2010

It's Hollywood's latest poster craze! From the people who brought you clichés like Obnoxious Lens Flare, Floating Heads and Orange & Teal comes the brand new phenomenon... Too Many Sparks.

Unstoppable was released this week, and although I haven't seen it (Matt did and thought it stank like ass) I feel like the poster tells me all I need to know. Chris Pine. Denzel. A HUGE RUDDY TRAIN. And lots and lots and lots of sparks. It might well be the most flammable movie ever made.

They should have called this movie 'SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT'

The addition of sparks to movie posters is not a new thing by any means, and to be fair, in the case of Unstoppable, it's probably pretty contextual to the story. In recent years, however, sparks have started creeping onto posters more and more. Sometimes it's subtle and atmospheric, or fits the movie's theme...

Then they just started whacking sparks on EVERY SINGLE BLOODY ACTION MOVIE EVER MADE.

It's not just action movies that need that spark, either. We started seeing flecks of fire in other genres too, like sci-fi...

... Westerns...

... horror movies...

... Family-friendly action adventures starring The Rock...

Even incendiary real-life dramas weren't safe.

I'm pretty sure Australia didn't feature too many scenes of Hugh Jackman trying to put out a sparking fire with a whip.

Sometimes the sparks are white...

Often they may be confused with a water splash (unless we missed the sequence in Public Enemies where John Dillinger took time out from robbing banks to ride a kickass water slide).

Recently, the sparkage has got out of hand. On the numerous character posters for Machete, sparks are basically just used to fill space.

Read between the lines of Angels & Demons and you'll come to realise the big twist: Tom Hanks farts sparks.

Maybe Harry Potter and friends are running because their forest is on fire? Or maybe the designer accidentally left the sparks layer on his Photoshop template.

"Whatever next!" I hear you say. "Where is all this leading? Sparks on a Shakespeare poster?" What an utterly ludicrous suggestion. I think we can safely say that'll never happen.


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