Trends exist in everything - whether its fashion, cell phones or, it seems, movie posters.
The humble movie poster certainly has a lot to achieve in an incredibly small amount of time. We now see posters plastered all over the place, and most only warrant a fraction of a second of our time. Therefore, movie posters not only need to grab our attention, but also, as quickly as possible, explain what the movie is about. This can be subtly achieved through the design of the poster - in particular through how the main character is portrayed.
However, this does have the unfortunate side-effect of meaning we eventually get a glut of extremely similar movie posters for fairly similarly themed movies. French blogger Christophe Courtois has the scanned the internet and created some collages of these poster graphic genres. Check them out below:
Hero on rooftop over looking a city with or without bad weather backdrop? Looks like we're getting a 'one vs all' story where a good - but perhaps emotionally damaged/brooding - hero must take on a bad guy in one specific geographic location.
A variant of the above, the 'viewed from behind' hero shows us this movie will feature a lone-wolf who has perhaps rejected others to do what he/she needs to do and/or left something behind. Furthermore, the fact we see them facing/walking towards something in the distance might suggest there is an element of 'destiny' or finality involved.
This one crops up extremely regularly - the female lead with back towards you, but looking over her shoulder while wearing tight/no pants. At first glance this might seem identical to the one above, however the fact they are turning and looking at YOU adds an element of seduction. Throw in the fact the angle shows ass and an element of 'side-boob', and I think we can figure out what they're trying to do here. Basically the poster is saying: "There's an attractive woman in this movie too."
Is the above too subtle for you? Well, why not just skip all that and focus the poster squarely on the girl's chest? Also, make sure you cut out the eyes while you're at it, because 'eyes are the windows to the soul' and we're not interested in any of that.
Monochrome poster with bright orange text/details? Basically, there will be explosions/gun fire.
The 'big font on picture' style is usually reserved for movies attempting to generate some sense of 'epicness'. Furthermore, the brazen text grabs your attention and can ask a question and/or deliver a bold statement. This suggests the movie will also be bold, unflinching and uncompromising.
The 'back-to-back 'buddy' pose' suggests these guys are friends, but they're probably going to have a few arguments before everything is settled. A classic for romantic comedies and buddy comedy movies.
A classic for the horror movie genre, the 'eye' poster can add an instant element of fear by showing the eye is wide open with a dilated pupil. Furthermore, this poster looks directly at you, making you personally involved in the creepy situation. Also, we're all rather squeamish about stuff happening to our eyes, so these posters can also add an element of discomfort which suggests the movie is scarier than it actually is.
Alternatively, in the case of Dinosaurs and Avatar below, the poster could be trying to make you connect/sympathize with something non-human by showing a human-like eye.
Simple. Big heads = big emotions.
Steely blue hue and people running? You're going to get an action-thriller, possibly involving government conspiracies and/or nefarious organisations. An element of technological surveillance or computer mumbo-jumbo might also be included.
Looking through an open pair of women's legs? Sex jokes. There's going to be sex jokes.
Do you mind seeing posters drawing upon the same frequently used design elements?