Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Art of the Poster: Does "White House Down" go too far?

Moviedozer has been featuring a lot of poster art lately,  but then it is a busy time of year for movie marketing. What's interesting is when someone does something a little different and in doing so, makes their work stand out that much more.

On Monday I showcased three posters, released well into their respective marketing campaigns, that I felt had done an exceptional job of telegraphing their characters and story lines in an effort to continue building anticipation for their pending releases (Great new poster designs for three May movies.).

Today I wanted to showcase three teaser posters, all for the same movie: White House Down.

Last weekend saw the release, with a more potent box-office take than had been expected, of Olympus Has Fallen. That film's teaser poster, depicting the explosive destruction of the White House and a tattered American flag in vivid comic book tones, is pictured here. What's obvious is that the Olympus Has Fallen poster looks like a movie poster - an ad for a piece of fiction.

The first teaser poster from
Olympus Has Fallen
White House Down takes a different tack. The first three teaser posters give us three points of view of Washington DC, seat of our nation's government. Stately, serene, peaceful. The deceptive calm before the storm, as an unexpected event is about to rip apart these images and lives along with them.

In a post 911 society, the eeriness and foreboding that linger outside the frame of these images seems palpable and frightening. The tagline: "It will start like any other day" acts as the story cue that bumps up our anxiety.

As the job of teaser posters is to instill a sense of curiosity and expectation, and in this case, trepidation, these posters nail it. But do they go too far? Do they play too much off of post 911 fears? Are they simply too evocative of that blue sky Tuesday morning in 2001? Is putting a child in the third poster over the top?

I'm torn by both vivid recollections of a day that should never be exploited for commerce and my sense that this is excellent marketing. But does it matter that the story is fiction if the images evoke real-life tragedy? What's your first impression? Do you have a visceral or an intellectual reaction to these posters? Or, are they just great ads for a movie?

The producers and Columbia Pictures have smartly kept White House Down in the wings until Olympus Has Fallen got its opening weekend out of the way. Though that film looks to have at least a few weeks ahead of steady business, White House Down should be well positioned for its June 28th release date.

Directed and Produced by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), the film stars Channing Tatum, Jason Clarke, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods and Richard Jenkins.

Clicking on any poster will open an image gallery.

Thanks to Columbia pictures for poster art. lists Bemis Balkind as designer for the first two posters. There is no designer credit listed for the bottom image.

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