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Posterized June 2017: ‘Wonder Woman,’ ‘The Beguiled,’ ‘It Comes at Night,’ and More

Written by on June 2, 2017 

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably.

A five Friday month means a lot of films will be hitting multiplexes and the fact it’s June means even more. Despite this, however, it’s still insane to see that there are five sequels (six if you consider June 16th’s All Eyez on Me as a continuation of Straight Outta Compton like the trades wanted us to believe when it was green-lit). That’s one a week to ensure talk of creative bankruptcy in Hollywood never evaporates. Then again, it doesn’t deserve to in a world where Michael Bay has been able to direct five Transformers films alone (The Last Knight bows on June 21st).

It’s the age of franchise bankability—so much so that studios have taken to blaming Rotten Tomatoes for poor box office performance rather than the quality of their too-quick churning. Maybe they’ll understand the concept of supply and demand soon enough to adjust their strategies. Just don’t forget that it’s up to you to buy tickets for the good stuff so they may begin to understand what’s truly viable.

Princess Diana of Themyscira

Look no further than DC’s Wonder Woman (June 2) as an example of what to spend your money on. Yes it’s a franchise player (sequel to Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad no matter how tangentially) and yes it is a remake (Lynda Carter donned the bracelets in the 1970s), but it’s also a big deal due to its behind the scenes barrier breaking. You can surely read about its budget as it pertains to a woman director (Patty Jenkins) and non-Caucasian female star (Israeli Gal Gadot) elsewhere.

I’ll focus on what this film means for its audience: namely young girls and women who have yet to see their gender lead the way as a superhero on the big screen. B O N D and Warner Bros. realize what this means and both ensured their marketing push mirrored it by putting their iconic character at the forefront.

It honestly doesn’t matter how you have Gadot pose (bracer deflection, tank lift, or lasso). You simply have to make certain she’s the only person on the poster. Throw words like “Power,” “Courage,” or “Wonder” if you’d like, but DO NOT take for granted what this property means for an audience that has for too long been ignored. This is DC’s badass moment to do what Disney/Marvel didn’t have the guts to do (the lack of Black Widow and Rey action figures upon release of their vehicles proves it). If you don’t clutter Man of Steel posters with Lois, you better not slap Steve Trevor next to Diana either.

And when you do (poor Little Giant Studios), the internet will mock you with derision. Granted, the firm didn’t do itself any favors by Photoshopping Chris Pine in the background as though he’s a Jedi ghost watching over our heroine. This poster is easy to laugh at and we all did. But at least they didn’t go the romantic route to try and “appeal to girls” because they still think females don’t like action.

For my money, though, it doesn’t get better than Concept Arts‘ tease. This thing is gorgeous with its smoky haze of colored atmosphere; its shadowy drama to match that of the DCEU yet retain the bright gold, blue, and red; and its pose of regality, hair flowing and strength ready to uncoil. I don’t like the bold “Ws” since the tag is literally over the logo to make it unnecessary—and why isn’t the one in “Power” bold too—but the imagery is too good to be ruined by it.

Kids vs Adults

June has a good mix when it comes to blockbusters hitting every age group. While Wonder Woman is in that sweet spot of targeting everyone (depending on parents of course), there are a few others for those seeking a bit more or less.

We’ll start with the less: animation. There’s a new property out (June 2nd’s Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie), but most little ones will probably be wanting Mom and Dad to take them to two tried and true franchise continuations in Blue Sky’s Despicable Me 3 (June 30) and Pixar’s Cars 3 (June 16). It’s actually funny how these two parallel each other in number of sequels and the ability to spawn offshoots with Minions and Planes respectively.

The thing about being the third entry in a series is that you don’t need much for brand recognition. Just look at LA‘s tease for Gru and company. You probably could have just left the whole thing white with the “2017” in that font and color and we’d know what it was. The banana-loving Minions are just an added bonus to turn kids’ heads.

The second brings more into play with a larger Gru, a full title stack, and a glimpse at plot with the reformed villain’s … brother? The trailer I saw mentioned nothing of this development so it’s either an intriguing direction to go with the poster or evidence that what I saw was deflection. Whichever is correct, the sheet is less than exciting.

No, the adverts with the Minions getting ink are much funnier—even if the act itself probably has nothing to do with the film. Gru is contemplating going back to crime, though, so maybe these yellow guys get arrested along the way and decide to immortalize their love of fruit in prison? Who knows? The idea of a banana teardrop tat simply made me chuckle, so I applaud them.

What Ten30 Studios does on Cars 3 is different. They still go minimalistic as far as not needing the title, etc., but the mood is the total opposite. Whereas Despicable Me 3 banked on light frivolity, Lightning McQueen and company have embraced drama—perhaps too much.

When you couple the tag “From this moment everything will change” with an image of its star crashing, the result is frightening. Did they just kill off Lightning? Is this a horror film? This vein of marketing went on for weeks if I remember correctly to create an interesting type of buzz that may have risked keeping kids away.

Thankfully the firm shifted focus to the cars driving down the speedway or through water for a more adventurous lilt devoid of the macabre. All three of these first teases are pretty with their splashes and sparks, diagonal layouts creating motion, and sharp colors. They introduce a new car in #20 too before finally allowing a fourth sheet to tell us he is the antagonist. We have a “VS” poster setting up the central race as well as competing aesthetics between glossy warms and matte cools. Welcome to the carbon age … whatever that means.

Now onto the adults for lackluster convention—there’s no sleek angles, compositional artistry or white space utilization here.

Photoshop reigns supreme with Concept ArtsRough Night (June 16), its collage so manufactured that it looks like Kate McKinnon and Ilana Glazer are playing children half the other actors’ size. “Terrible choices” indeed.

At least the character sheets have some spunk even if they’re generic. I prefer the close-up series best as it highlights the words on each sash so we can picture the actress through that description. You lose this imaginative interest once you move out to add their faces. Suddenly it’s a portrait rather than a gag, a glamour shot rather than an attempt to spark something in us. Not that either is going to cajole those uninterested in this gender-reversal Very Bad Things to buy a ticket anyway. The cast is king and the campaign exploits that truth so as not to waste time complicating matters.

LA tries to add some vision to their The Mummy (June 9) variations, but it’s tough to accomplish when you’re saddled with an unwieldy faux metallic title font that wouldn’t feel real if it was made of metal and glued on top.

They do choose intriguing images though whether a symmetrical view of the coffin or the mummy’s facial brands/tattoos (although I find the split eye thing to be laughably over-the-top). These are both effective teases to introduce atmosphere and mood without Tom Cruise plastered atop it to distract our attention.

You obviously have to add him in eventually, though—even if only for the IMAX sheets. What’s sad is that placing these two entries next to each other shows that the studio feels Sofia Boutella is as important as a stone tomb when compared with their box office juggernaut. It’s a shame because she’s honestly the only reason I’m interesting in going to the theater for this one.

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