|Colossal movie murals that take up entire sides |
of buildings are fairly common in NYC.
Advertising in general dominates the environment of most major American cities, and New York and Los Angeles in particular are prime examples. Who can think of Times Square without the giant Coca-Cola display, for instance? Still, movie and television posters in particular are different, I think, because even if you don't drink soda or wear a certain brand of jeans, chances are you care about movies and TV shows, to one degree or another.
For me, movie posters and murals and billboards are a double-edged sword. As a movie fan, I can't help but love seeing them. The quality of the images themselves aside, simply seeing a poster for an upcoming movie that I'm excited about is always a bit of thrill, because it means that opening day is that much closer. This tends to apply more towards the summer blockbusters than the fall awards contenders, mainly because the former captures the imagination to a greater degree...
|Movie posters and other ads in odd locations generate|
more revenue for the cash-strapped transit system.
That said, however, seeing them all the time, everywhere, can get old quick. I used to believe that the worse a movie is, the more posters of it you'll see. Now I know that this isn't always true, but sometimes it seems that way, such as a few months ago when posters for Identity Thief dominated the subway stations. The unimaginative and just plain stupid poster (doofy head shots of stars Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy) was a turn-off in and of itself, but when the movie improbably opened at number one despite atrocious reviews (20% on Rotten Tomatoes), that made it even worse.
Then there are the ever-popular variant posters, which isolate individual characters - quite popular for animated movies. In the past month or so, the TV show Game of Thrones has bombarded NYC subway stations and buses with character headshot posters in advance of the new season. The show is an ensemble, so there's no one dominant star, like in Mad Men or Dexter. I have no doubt it's a great show (I've never seen it but I've read the books), but the ubiquity of even these posters, which are not very imaginative either, has begun to wear on me.
|The different shape of a movie bus poster |
presents its own challenges.
Sometimes formatting problems go in the opposite direction. The poster for the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic 42 fits the "landscape" bus format perfectly - an image of star Chadwick Boseman sliding into a base. What they did for the upright, or "portrait" format, however (seen on bus shelters), is flip the image onto the right side of the frame, so it now looks like Boseman's falling instead of sliding. It looks very awkward.
It's the subway stations in which movie and TV posters tend to dominate most. In recent years here in New York, we've seen movie posters and other ads displayed in more unconventional spots, like support pillars, stairways, and even turnstiles, all in an increased attempt to generate more revenue for the financially-weak transit system - which has taken some serious getting used to. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the opportunity for playful vandalism. For example, when Clint Eastwood made his perhaps-ill-informed speech last fall at the Republican National Convention, addressing an imaginary President Obama in an empty chair, I spotted a subway poster for his film Trouble With the Curve altered to reflect current events.
There's a lot to like and dislike about an environment dominated by movie and TV ads. I suppose I like it more than I hate it, though if I wasn't such an avid film fan I might feel differently. Yes, one can argue that advertising in general clutters the landscape and we'd all be better off without it, though I think that argument holds more water when applied to more rural areas. Here in the city, it's simply a fact of life, and always has been - and I'd rather look at a creative, cleverly-designed ad, for movies or anything else, than a boring, unimaginative one.