The road to getting a poster design, approved, printed, sent out to theaters across the country and uploaded online, takes much longer than you might think. Not only do the creatives have to sign off, but also marketing departments, studio heads and more, which explains why sometimes, the most brilliant movies get the most milquetoast treatment. But since we live in age where everything seems to be preserved, some interesting nuggets from a couple notable movies have made their way online.
Film.com sat down with former movie poster designer Alex Griendling for a discussion about the ins and outs of doing work on studio projects, and he provided some pretty fascinating unused concepts and art for their piece. First up are a couple of on-the-nose pieces for Martin Scorsese's dream vs. reality thriller "Shutter Island." These options certainly play heavily on the psychological aspect of the movie, while the official versions went with the "missing person" fakeout narrative to drive its marketing. And by all accounts it worked, because the flick earned $128 million domestic, making it the director's second best box office movie ever at home, behind "The Departed."
But perhaps no poster could've saved "Watchmen," Zack Snyder's ambitious but flat attempt to bring the Alan Moore comic to life. "I think that film, in a lot of ways, represents what people would expect from working in the industry. We got to read a script, view tens of thousands of photographs taken during the shooting, view early footage of the film before special effects had been added, and our creative director met with Zach Snyder to discuss his goals with the movie," Griendling said, about his work on the superhero film, though even with all that access, he wound having to play by the rules of appealing to a mainstream audience.
"It started off wide-open, everything was on the table," he continued. "I wanted to do a Re-elect Nixon guerrilla poster campaign, since those posters and that plot line are pretty prominent in the book, but that was shot down as being too obscure—'Why would seeing re-elect Nixon posters make people want to see Watchmen?' "
In the end, "Watchmen" went with a bunch of pretty standard character posters, which didn't help distinguish it much from every other movie about dudes in suits. Anyway, the entire conversation is worth a read, so check it out.