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When you finally decide to venture back to cinemas, chances are you’ll find yourself looking at the movie posters on display with disappointment. Not at the quality of the films, mind you, but at the poster art itself. That’s because designing eye-catching movie posters is something of a lost art these days. In fact, rather than creating iconic new images that instantly capture the essence of a movie (think of the timeless posters for “Jaws,” “A Clockwork Orange,” or “Apocalypse Now”), studios today tend to recycle the same tired designs that consist of little more than a collage of photoshopped faces randomly assembled over an uninspired background shot.
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The good news for film fans with an eye for design is that a new generation of artists and illustrators have emerged over the past several years, intent on reinventing the lost art of the movie one-sheet. Thanks to the success of the popular design boutique Mondo, which began creating alternative movie posters back in 2005, independent artists from around the world are now crafting their own unique posters for Hollywood classics, modern blockbusters, and everything in between. So if you’d love to adorn your walls with a poster of your favorite film, but you’re tired of the same old images, here are 14 alternative posters worthy of framing.
Proving that sometimes the simplest methods are the most effective, this minimalist poster for “The Godfather” is part of a series of clever works by artist Dan Grguras, who uses disparate objects placed in a single photograph to highlight a key scene from a movie. In this case, the poster pays tribute to mafia henchman Pete Clemenza’s famous quote, “leave the gun, take the cannoli,” which he casually utters after his partner Rocco fires a bullet into a former associate’s head. A giclee print on enhanced matte paper, the poster measures 18 x 12 inches precisely, making framing simple and affordable.
‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’
Award-winning artist Tomer Hanuka reimagines the poster for Nicolas Roeg’s haunting sci-fi drama as an anime-inspired comic book cover. The triangular shape in the center of the image echoes a similar shape that’s present in the film’s original poster, while the surrounding portrait depicts earthbound alien Thomas Jerome Newton’s extraterrestrial wife and children dying of thirst back on his home planet. The names of cast members David Bowie and Candy Clark are included at the bottom of the image, just beneath the slowly deteriorating title font. Each screen print comes hand-numbered by the artist.
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By now you’ve probably seen the shiny new Hollywood poster for Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” But what if you were in the market for something a bit… wilder? If you’re a serious “Dune” fan, chances are you’re familiar with the story behind Alejandro Jodorowsky’s lost adaptation (and if not rent the documentary immediately). Jodorowsky’s film would have cast an insane collection of stars, including Mick Jagger, Orson Wells and Salvador Dali, but the project crashed and burned before shooting began. Luckily, his abandoned version still lives in the hearts and minds of artists everywhere, and it inspired this ultra-rare Mondo print from artist Killian Eng, which is still available from various sellers on Ebay.
This chilling alternative poster for Jordan Peele’s modern horror classic uses understated colors and thoroughly original typography to send a shiver down your spine. The concentric circles in the background suggest a descent into the nightmarish “sunken place,” and the look of sheer terror on Daniel Kaluuya’s face is more than enough to bring back memories of the fear you felt the first time you saw the film. Part of a series of works by artist Tibor Lovas, who uses contrasting figures and minimalist geometric shapes to honor some of his favorite movies.
Talented artist David Graham uses the famous quote “it could have imitated a million life-forms on a million planets” as the inspiration for this highly original alternative poster for John Carpenter’s horror classic “The Thing.” Consisting of incrementally torn pages from a hand-drawn scientific sketchbook that, when combined, form the likeness of an otherworldly creature, Graham’s intriguing concept incorporates photographic elements that add an extra layer of texture and depth to the overall design. The result is a thought-provoking poster that rewards fans who’ve seen the film multiple times.
‘No Time to Die’
From the very beginning, the James Bond franchise has broken new ground when it comes to the art of poster design. Which makes it all the more disappointing that the official studio posters for the upcoming “No Time to Die” have been creatively underwhelming. Luckily, London-based artist Mark Murphy crafted this splendid alternative poster for Daniel Craig’s 007 swan song. Digitally painted in the style of the series’ jovial Roger Moore era – specifically “Octopussy” from 1983 – this playfully nostalgic piece of work has everything the studio versions lack, namely thrills, sexiness, and explosions.
‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’
The third chapter in the John Wick saga features some of the most creatively choreographed gunplay in the history of cinema. Unfortunately, the film’s official poster is far more conventional. Consisting of little more than a neon-tinted shot of Keanu Reeves looking mildly perturbed, it barely hints at the visual pleasures the movie offers. Which is why this alternative poster created by Broken Beanie, a freelance graphic designer based in India, is such a breath of fresh air. Resembling a combination of Shepard Fairey’s street art mixed with a lucha libre poster, this dynamic image also manages to incorporate Wick’s ominous nickname “Baba Yaga” into the design.
‘A Quiet Place’
The official studio poster for John Krasinski’s horror hit “A Quiet Place” depicts Emily Blunt hiding in a bathtub while a deadly creature lurks just out of frame. For this highly-stylized alternative version, artist Tomer Hanuka took an entirely different approach. Literalizing the threat of sound as a series of jagged waveform lines, Hanuka portrays the film’s Abbott family as shoeless wanderers desperately creeping across an alien terrain, hoping against hope that they can reach their destination without making any noise. It’s an audacious concept that uses minimal colors to striking effect.
Award-winning Polish artist Aleksander Walijewski specializes in using visual metaphor and graphic symbolism in the alternative movie posters he designs, and his take on Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is no exception. Portraying Norman Bates wearing a wig made from heavy chains, the image works on many different levels. For example, the weight of the chains suggests the figurative weight of Norman’s psychosis, while the chains themselves hint at the psychological tether that lashes Norman and his dead mother together in one tortured body. No matter how you interpret it, it’s an exceptional work of art that’s sure to become a conversation piece when framed and hung on your wall.
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London-based artist Bex reimagines Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning black comedy “Parasite” in the style of a vintage Hollywood melodrama with this retro-inspired alternative poster design. Printed on 170gsm uncoated paper, the poster foregrounds actor Song Kang-ho in the center, while the film’s supporting cast looks on expectantly from the periphery. Compare this design to the posters for 1940s classics like “Now, Voyager” and “Strange Cargo” and you’ll see exactly the type of image that Bex is referencing in her work.
Brazilian illustrator Jenifer Prince, whose retro aesthetic often focuses on lesbian narratives, created this stylish poster for Todd Haynes’ Oscar-nominated “Carol.” Clearly inspired by 1950s romance comics like “Young Love” and “Going Steady,” Prince’s poster also includes Carol’s flirtatious quote, “what a strange girl you are… flung out of space,” which she whispers to Therese during their first lunch together. The inclusion of Carol’s soon-to-be ex-husband Harge observing from the background hints at the film’s bitter divorce subplot.
‘Being John Malkovich’
An inventive take on Spike Jonze’s mind-blowing comedy “Being John Malkovich,” this alternative poster is the second entry on our list from multi-discipline design studio Chris Ayers Creative. Substantially brighter and peppier than the somewhat gloomy original poster, Ayers’ work here manages to boil the film’s surreal story down to one comical image. With its bold lines and eye-pleasing color scheme, it resembles something you might find on the cover of a New Yorker magazine. And that’s high praise indeed.
‘Harold and Maude’
Hal Ashby’s bittersweet comic romance about a troubled 20-something loner who falls in love with an 80-year old free spirit is given new life with this lovely alternative poster design. The inclusion of the sunflower over Ruth’s shoulder and the daisy over Harold’s is a reference to one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. “I should like to change into a sunflower most of all, because they’re so tall and simple,” Ruth tells Harold, who replies that he would choose to become a daisy if he could, “because they’re all alike.” The pop of bright yellow color on both of the flowers adds a vibrant touch to the image. Poster art by Chris Ayers Creative.
‘The Bicycle Thief’
Award-winning Italian artist Riccardo Guasco lends his signature style to this colorful tribute to Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 neorealist masterpiece “The Bicycle Thief.” Capturing the sorrowful moment when young Bruno places a tender hand on his desperate father’s shoulder after a fruitless day spent searching for their stolen bicycle, Guasco’s striking 6-color screenprint reimagines the black and white classic in a whole new light. Poster art designed in association with Nautilus Art Prints.
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