Posted by Emily Browne @emilyRB
[email protected] Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

Long before trailers and TV spots, the job of a movie poster was to attract us mere mortals into the hallowed halls of the theater, and to make us part with our hard-earned dollars. These days, movie posters are just one small cog in a much larger marketing machine. Well, one theater on the island of Taiwan is doing things the old fashioned way — by producing every one of their movie posters by hand, creating a truly unique take on Hollywood's biggest blockbusters.

Yen Chen Fa painting / Source: pkgamma on Reddit
Yen Chen Fa painting / Source: pkgamma on Reddit

This labour of love is the work of movie-poster artist Yen Chen Fa, who has been painting posters for over 40 years. He is currently the only working movie-poster artist left in the country — a tradition which goes way back in Taiwan and other parts of Asia, where skilled labor was cheaper than printing enormous posters.

Photo by Alexander Synaptic (synapticism.com)
Photo by Alexander Synaptic (synapticism.com)

Speaking to China Post in 2013, Yen said that painting movie posters was his dream, and something he has worked incredibly hard to achieve:

"This is definitely a tough business to be in, but I never gave up my dream like many others who tried to learn how to paint movie posters, because this is both my hobby and my life. [...] I started to learn how to paint movie posters when I was 18 because it seemed like a nice business to be in, and that through it I could combine what I do best."

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He currently paints posters for the Chin Men theater in Tainan, a second-run cinema which screens movies once they have passed their initial release. Chin Men was frequented by director Ang Lee during his days at Tainan University, and the interior of the theater honors Lee and his work.

Ang Lee honored inside the Chin Men Theater / Source: Tainan City Guide
Ang Lee honored inside the Chin Men Theater / Source: Tainan City Guide

Here are a few of Yen Chen Fa's incredible works:

1. Man of Steel (2013)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

2. Oblivion (2013)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

4. Fast 7 (2015)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

5. The Avengers (2012)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

6. Gravity (2013)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

7. Pacific Rim (2013)

Yen Chen Fa
Yen Chen Fa

7. BONUS! Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

According to proofofpuddings on Reddit, this one was a little different:

The theater collaborating with a local art studio had this campaign for kids from all parts of Taiwan to participate in poster designing for Pitch Perfect 2, Penguins of Madagascar and Age of Ultron. The campaign committee chose 3 out of 70 kids' posters, and this one was the winner.
Source: http://movies.ettoday.net/news/543765
Source: http://movies.ettoday.net/news/543765

It is such a shame that hand-painted movie posters is a dying art in Asia and around the world, but it's incredibly inspiring to see artists like Yen Chen Fa still feel so passionate about their craft:

"After over 40 years in this business I have come to realize that no matter what a person chooses to do in life, the most important thing is that you hold your ground and value your passion, because that will eventually lead to success."

It's amazing how enormous, colourful and detailed these movie posters are, but I wonder what happens to them once the movie has done its run?

Which movie poster is your favorite?

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Source: Reddit, Imgur, China Post, Tainan City Guide, image courtesy of Alexander Synaptic (synapticism.com)