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The Year Movie Posters Turned Gray

The Year Movie Posters Turned Gray


Recently we shared a project that visualized the history of colors in movie posters from 1914 to present. Those visualizations showed a striking shift as blue has been feature more and more prominently over the years. It also highlights Hollywood's love of those complementary colors orange and blue. This is something that gets brought up and ranted about every so often, and when I went to browse through the movie posters of films released this year, I fully expected to see the usual orange and blue trends. What I saw was a little different.

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Yes, there are still a lot of blue posters out there, but we know blue is nothing new.

What struck me in particular about 2012 was how gray everything looked. Everywhere I saw dark, subdued posters, steely black & white images, and heck, there's even a film called The Grey. Just take a look at some of the of posters from this year.

Alex_Cross Amazing_Spiderman

Bourne_Legacy Cabin_in_the_Woods

Dark_Knight Expendables

Frankenweenie The_Grey

Haywire Lawless

Lincoln Prometheus

Safe_House Skyfall

Snow_White Taken

This_Means_War Total_Recall

What is it about gray?

It's a masculine color, and as you probably noticed, these are action-driven films appealing to male audiences. Even the films starring women. Gray is also considered dark and mysterious, so perhaps its use is meant to entice, to draw you in so you can find out why it's so dark and mysterious.

On it's own, gray can be quite dull, but when smartly combined with more vibrant colors, boy do those details pop. Red is used to great effect to make titles, dates, and violence stand out. The singed orange jumps off of The Expendables poster and screams ACTION MOVIE. Liam Neeson's deep blue eyes pierce right into your soul. You get the point.

Personally, I find this trend a little boring and gloomy. I'm more of a fan of the brilliantly colored posters of yesteryear, but I suppose that's another post for another time. What do you guys think?


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18 Comments
Showing 1 - 18 of 18 Comments

kiwidebz

I wouldn't be a true colour lover if I didn't agree with you, and of course I do agree!

I think the whole global economic recession has something to do with it - media is becoming more subdued in general and it's become a feedback loop.

Also people are possibly less inclined to revel in colour when their friends and relatives are losing their jobs on a depressingly regular basis. It may seem disrespectful somehow.

I say BRING BACK THE COLOUR and let's cheer everyone up!!!

treemints

I enjoyed this article a lot- thank you for writing this, Lesley! =) I never thought about movie poster trends before although I love watching movies in my local movie theater, and your observations are fascinating.

I think the tendency towards grays in movie posters nowadays reflects the theme of the movies more than anything. Many of the movie posters above are reflections of the products that they are advertising: the themes of book and movies are tending to lean towards darker and more realistic concepts nowadays (take all the dystopian films and more realistic, urban re-imaginings of superhero tales). And apparently those worlds are not places full of glorious and vibrant colors. Red is associated with violence and blood as well as romantic love, both which are usually part of movies nowadays, and hence the bold red letters in the posters screaming "danger"!

WelI, I sincerely hope that the colors of the real world won't ever become this gloomy. :P

jhonny9696

ESTA CHEVERE EL ARTICULO Q SE PUBLICO Y MUCHAS GRACIAS POR VER CRADEO ESTO

luccava

This article is very good and well written. Love your arguments!
I like all colour palettes especially Prometheus. The accented blue on Alex Cross' is cool, too! About the trend, maybe it is the most suitable shades for action movies. At least at the moment.

Jamiejaymay

I love this article :) I agree with treemints with the fact that the colours suit the genre of the films they are advertising. Fashions will come and go and obviously there is a current trend towards twisted, horror, action movies. There is also the fact that usually one film does really well (or is expected to) at the box office and then all of a sudden there are a dozen very similar films, all jumping on the band wagon, feeding off the popularity of the original film. Therefore the posters are going to look similar, not just in colours but the typography and even the way that the characters are positioned (the character from taken 2 and Snow White and the huntsman are stood in more or less the same position and angle as well as each holding a weapon).

I think it all depends on what the 'next big film' is, the poster will reflect the films style and genre, but it is all the other films that will start to come out, that will popularise and carry the trend on for however long, until the next 'big film' comes out, which dares to buck the trend.

A very interesting article, greys and blues seem to have been a trend for quite a while now. I've seen many dramas that often use a slight blue tint to give it a colder feel. It will be interesting to see what colours will start appearing next!

zmorris

I thoroughly enjoyed the article and found myself laughing as I kept scrolling through the posters. I do see your point and agree entirely, although I am a bit bias and favor these palettes. Somethings can be overused, I will say that. And in respect to trends, I am almost certain, as others pointed out, that this will soon change.

I really enjoy these palettes though. There was a warm comfort and it felt like my brain didn't have to process as much in movies like The Grey and the Sherlock Holmes' films. I am a big fan of David Fincher too, so I am a sucker for muted and murky desaturated colors, as in The Social Network or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


(btw, Im new to the site. first comment evar.)

k80

Grey is my favorite color.
Team

sprouticus

Welcome to COLOURlovers! And thanks for the great comment.

I'm a big fan of Fincher myself -- Fight Club just might take the cake when it comes to murky color palettes. In fact, it would be interesting to look at his body of work as a whole in regards to color. Hmm... :)

zmorris wrote:
I thoroughly enjoyed the article and found myself laughing as I kept scrolling through the posters. I do see your point and agree entirely, although I am a bit bias and favor these palettes. Somethings can be overused, I will say that. And in respect to trends, I am almost certain, as others pointed out, that this will soon change.

I really enjoy these palettes though. There was a warm comfort and it felt like my brain didn't have to process as much in movies like The Grey and the Sherlock Holmes' films. I am a big fan of David Fincher too, so I am a sucker for muted and murky desaturated colors, as in The Social Network or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


(btw, Im new to the site. first comment evar.)
Team

sprouticus

Thanks! I wish I could say I liked Prometheus the film as much as I do its colors. ;)

luccava wrote:
This article is very good and well written. Love your arguments!
I like all colour palettes especially Prometheus. The accented blue on Alex Cross' is cool, too! About the trend, maybe it is the most suitable shades for action movies. At least at the moment.

zmorris

That would be an awesome-mazing sight. maybe scrns from every scene in every fincher movie..................then...................................then we make schemes.


oh, yes.

[this site has my eye catching palettes more and more. (great another thing to notice :p)]

sprouticus wrote:
Welcome to COLOURlovers! And thanks for the great comment.

I'm a big fan of Fincher myself -- Fight Club just might take the cake when it comes to murky color palettes. In fact, it would be interesting to look at his body of work as a whole in regards to color. Hmm... :)

zmorris wrote:
I thoroughly enjoyed the article and found myself laughing as I kept scrolling through the posters. I do see your point and agree entirely, although I am a bit bias and favor these palettes. Somethings can be overused, I will say that. And in respect to trends, I am almost certain, as others pointed out, that this will soon change.

I really enjoy these palettes though. There was a warm comfort and it felt like my brain didn't have to process as much in movies like The Grey and the Sherlock Holmes' films. I am a big fan of David Fincher too, so I am a sucker for muted and murky desaturated colors, as in The Social Network or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


(btw, Im new to the site. first comment evar.)

jenpen78

Loved the article and the colour grey :)

jerrymiah

The Batman and Expendable logos are two of favorites. Like the design!

dotondot

yes, ive noticed it and i feel everything but gray. It doesn't explain my experience at the moment at all. The media is projecting...Are we supposed to be feeling gloomy? I dont! Its nice design but sometimes mega trends dont necessarily match what we need and feel. What happened to the theory that things are lively and brilliant during difficult times? Who wants to be dragged down? But, yes, grey can be used to promote other brighter colors like purple and blue or teal.

arokiskis

the black and white is very nice for this poster good i love it

SassyMauve

Good Insight. The projection is definitely negative and depressing, mechanistic and bleak. However, Colour Lovers and True Believers in Christ will always be bright inside because love illuminates hate

function band

I wonder what color would dominate movie posters this 2013. I grew up loving movies and of course movie posters. I could still remember how colorful movie posters were when I was a kid.

I love gray as it's a color associated most with professionals, my function band uses it, but I don't think it's what people need these days. People need something fresh. Something that would awaken our adventurous sides that have been neglected because of uncertainties that many of us face these days.

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