Brace yourself: soon Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” will be invading your brain all over again. James Cameron is releasing a 3D version of his sinking ship Titanic, and a new cut of the film means that a new poster has been released. We can appreciate the classic approach the studio is going for — particularly since the movie’s original one sheet always appeared as though the ship was about to devour Kate and Leo like Jaws — but it’s not the most flattering thing we’ve ever seen. The overused “Experience It Like Never Before” also doesn’t help. Cameron’s movie won the Best Picture Oscar in 1997, which got us thinking about other Academy Award winners that had terrible poster art.
Looking at film poster history overall, it’s interesting to note that Hollywood used to really play up the fact that they were adapting novels by featuring books in the artwork. Before the 1960s, the focus on hand draw images and more abstract concepts populated one sheets. Around the time of movies like Midnight Cowboy, stark photorealism became the focus. As frustrating as it is to survey the cruddier examples of poster art over time, movies like Kramer vs. Kramer were refreshing to note — they resisted the urge to do the obvious and rip the picture of the happy family in half. Not many studios would do the same these days.
Click through for a look back at the best of the worst of the best.
Perhaps we can blame 1938’s You Can’t Take It With You for the generic, floating head epidemic that has plagued film poster art for years. The artwork suggests nothing about Frank Capra’s movie starring the famed Lionel Barrymore that centers around an eccentric family. We inherently want to go easy on classic film art — because we have different expectations today and modern film audiences are far more savvy when it comes to understanding advertising and media — but all’s fair in love and war.