Before the film, comes the trailer - and before the trailer comes the poster. A first impression is everything to an audience, no matter if the property is a soon to be adapted fan favourite, or a relatively unknown project. Either they were too much, or not enough. Too abstract or too in your face. Too dark or not colourful enough, here are 10 unused film posters (on the left) that were passed over in favour of their final editions (on the right).
We have to say, not all of the final ones beat out their earlier versions.
Saul Bass’s initial poster for The Shining didn't exactly leave director Stanley Kubrick too impressed. In fact, annotations on the early print let us know exactly what he thought. Whether elements were “too irrelevant” or “the title looks bad small”, the final version on the right somehow didn't seem too yellow for Kubrick.
Probably unaware just how successful the film would turn out to be, this minimalist version of 1977's Star Wars was swapped out for an all laser-guns blazing sci-fi romp. Complete with lightsaber, Death Star and a giant Darth Vader helmet, more was definitely more in the 70s.
While we know this Batman poster is unfinished, the use of pencil and lack of colour makes it look as if it was lifted off the page of an in-the-works graphic novel. Featuring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader not once, not even twice – but three times, the enigmatic final version was much more appreciated. Even though some of it is cropped out at the sides.
The Iron Lady
Even though it's an interesting idea for the biopic on the first female Prime Minister, the fact of the matter is...it doesn't really look like her. Replaced with a more detailed image of Meryl Streep as Thatcher along with a Westminster skyline, the finished poster still kept the Britannia's red white and blue colour pallet.
Although you can’t mistake Uma Thurman’s eyes peeking over the top for anyone else’s, the image on the left doesn’t exactly have the same draw as the official version. The washed out look of the early version doesn’t hit you in the face the same way as the bolder, brighter looking poster does. Its torn and tatty look, pistol and cigarette are all unmistakably Tarantino.
Both posters have an eerily isolated feel to them, although the frantic looking Sam Rockwell encased inside a moon in the earlier version connotes more of a horror movie feel towards audiences than the space-drama it is. Directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, Moon was also given a new tagline in addition to its new poster – a trend among the reworked designs.
The only thing that really stayed the same for Mystic River’s artwork was the font of the tagline. While the Black Emerald Bar is one of the key locations within the narrative, the theatrical poster art left more to the imagination for those who hadn’t read Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.
One of the go-to designers for poster art, John Alvin was responsible for over 100 film posters before his death in 2007. Of his many designs for the 1993 film, one featured the six principles characters heads displayed in an almost totem pole-esque manner with an ominous cloud in the shape of a T-Rex in between them. Spielberg and co. probably thought there was a bit too much going on in the proposed image, and similarly decided that less was in fact more. Only using red, yellow, white and black with said T-Rex filling the frame, the image has become one of the most iconic film posters of all time.
A Clockwork Orange
The second Kubrick entry on the list is also probably the most bizarre. We’re not really sure where to start with this one. But the naked body with a TV for a head on what looks like an early rendition of a super computer in the shape of a cross probably wouldn’t have worked wonders for the film's campaign.
With such a huge focus on the extremely bendy world created by Christopher Nolan, the four characters on the roof of a building were put back on the ground – albeit probably not safely, in the official poster for Inception. Although we’re not sure why the poster was nixed, two more actors were also added to the roster.