'Advertising can make or break a movie at the box office. After all, a movie can be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if you don't know about it, you won't go see it. Among the most effective elements in advertising film is the tagline, that little blurb we see on all movie posters that attempts to sum up the film in a single sentence. Most are forgettable, even more are generic, but there are a few that just seem to work so well that they become forever associated with the film that spawned them. Here are 10 of the greatest tag lines for films ever made.
10. 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'
We Are Not Alone
Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a science fiction film of a different kind, a more hopeful view on what a first visitation from another world would be like. While it begins dark and mysterious, the characters gradually find the presence of our visitors to be less a cause for fear and more one for curiosity, and even hope. The tagline for this movie tried to reflect that sense of warmth that the lights in the sky soon bring.
9. 'Apollo 13'
Houston, We Have A Problem
Apollo 13 tells the true story of the ill-fated trip to the moon that nearly cost the lives of three American astronauts. The original disaster had many across the country glued to their television sets wondering if these pioneers would ever return. The real event became a part of the popular culture, and that first cryptic message from Jim Lovell sent chills down the spine when this movie was first released.
8. 'The Fly'
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid
David Cronenberg's classic remake of The Fly was a different animal than the original, telling not of a fly and a man being merged as two separate entities, but of a man absorbing a fly and slowly transforming into a monster. As the hero (played by Jeff Goldblum) slowly becomes less and less human, a dreamy atmosphere continues to build. The tagline is simple, cryptic, but still manages to say it what we all think when looking at Seth Brundle.
7. 'The Big Lebowski'
Her Life Was In Their Hands. Now Her Toe Is In The Mail
The Big Lebowski is the classic Coen Brothers comedy that tells of an aging hippie and slacker who becomes roped into a kidnapping plot simply because he wanted a new rug. Our hero, the Dude, is anything but. He is lazy, apathetic, and generally ill equipped in the field of sleuth work and hostage rescue. Because of this, when he is charged with rescuing a captive girl, everything goes wrong.
6. 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
One Man's Struggle To Take It Easy
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the classic comedy about one high school student's elaborate plan to take a day off high school with his friends. In many ways, his plot to skip class is far more intricate and complicated than simply taking his exam would have been, and it is the heights the character goes to simply to have a good time that makes this movie so lovable. For a guy just trying to have fun, he ends up doing a lot of work, which is why this tagline is perfect for this movie.
5. 'Army Of Darkness'
Trapped In Time, Surrounded By Evil, Low On Gas
Army of Darkness is the third film in the Evil Dead series about nerd turned monster hunter Ash Williams and his continuing struggles to defeat the Deadites. Here, he is zapped back in time to medieval days and must teach a band of knights how to fight zombies the way we do in the 20th century, while being a bit of an ass. Being a combination of a hero and a putz, the tagline sets up a sweeping epic before delivering a little punchline at the end.
4. 'The Thing'
Man Is The Warmest Place To Hide
John Carpenter's masterpiece about a shapeshifting alien attacking an arctic outpost is still very scary. Most of the paranoia comes from the heroes trying to figure out which of them are human, and who among them is the alien interloper. While the effects are spectacular, it is the sense of dread and mistrust that really creates the tension, a feeling summed up to perfection by this tagline.
3. 'Jaws 2'
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water...
Jaws 2 isn't as good as the original, but it sure knew how to build up the hype. The original film made going to the beach a frightening experience for many, with most of us always wondering whether or not the shark was lurking just below the surface. Three years later, that fear had died down a little. Jaws 2's tagline tapped back into it, recalling that sense of unease that the last movie left long after we exited the theater.
2. 'Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom'
If Adventure Has A Name, It Must Be Indiana Jones
#IndianaJones is that rare case of a film becoming instantly iconic. The original Raiders of the Lost Ark was Spielberg's best film to date, and propelled actor #HarrisonFord to stardom not even Star Wars could give him. Given the character becoming pop culture royalty, this simple tagline couldn't have advertised the swashbuckling archeologist's return to the big screen any better.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream
#Alien was a film that should have been a simple B-movie, but instead delivered one of the scariest, most atmospheric and most unsettling horror films ever made. It was made all the scarier in how the heroes were isolated, trapped on a spaceship drifting between the stars with a killer picking them off one by one. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and seemingly no way to destroy the looming threat. That is why this tagline for Alien may be the greatest tagline in movie history.
With Alien: Covenant coming soon, check out the nods to the original film that were snuck into the recently released trailer:
Check out Movie Pilot video to watch more.
Advertising a film is a tricky business. It is one of the most crucial elements that determines whether a theater is packed to capacity or empty while the projector is running. Sometimes, one of the best elements in advertising is not a spectacular poster or even a well-cut trailer. Sometimes, the best thing to get people talking is a simple phrase, one that is easy to remember, and gets you wondering just what message it is trying to convey.