Whats with this poster?
November 28, 2009 6:32 AM   Subscribe

Why are film posters longer than they are wide?

This seems like a fairly universal rule thats rarely broken.

Film itself is wider than long which adds to the confusion.

posted by breadfruit to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
It has more to do with the display, order, and flow of information, setting-up and telling a story, rather than any relationship to the orientation of the film. See also: all other print media.

FWIW, there are (or used to be) smaller movie "posters" known as Lobby Cards. They were horizontally oriented, though much smaller than the typical poster. They tended to feature actual stills from the movie itself.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:40 AM on November 28, 2009

Cinemas (even small ones) usually have relatively wide entrances - leaving less horizontal space for posters.
posted by Lanark at 6:47 AM on November 28, 2009

Aren't MOST posters vertical?
posted by SLC Mom at 6:49 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Aren't MOST posters vertical?

Well, that's exactly what I wondered—and then I thought, "Which came first: the movie poster, or that vertical "standard" poster size?"
posted by limeonaire at 7:34 AM on November 28, 2009

OTOH, my daughter has a wiiiiiiiiddde poster on her wall for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It came in the newspaper though. Advertising morphs very quickly.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:39 AM on November 28, 2009

Some of the other poster sizes that have been phased out over time. In terms of the most widely used "one sheet" poster size: "The one sheet was introduced and standardized in 1909 by Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company."

And this site claims:

"The movie industry starting off had borrowed the advertising paper sizes from other entertainment areas like Vaudeville, fairs and the circus. The sizes that were readily available were the one sheet (27x41, the three sheet (41x81, the six sheet (81x81) and the 24 sheeet (246x108).

While these sizes were popular, there was a need for more specialized material just for theaters. The first card stock material created was the insert and lobby cards. Then a few years later 30x40s and 40x60s were added.


Edison set the standard size for a movie poster to be 27"x 41". This poster became known as the "one sheet." The one sheet was designed to be used in glass display cases inside and outside of movie theatres."
posted by sharkfu at 8:25 AM on November 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

Phi dictates (or influences) the dimensions of pretty much everything that's being sold. As for the orientation, haven't books and most other printed matter historically held to that tall rectangle format?
posted by carsonb at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2009

It's different in the UK, btw. They're called Quads over here, because they're sized by some archaic measurement called Quad Crown, being four times the size of a Crown Poster, whatever that is. They're wider than they are long at 40" x 30".
posted by Magnakai at 8:57 AM on November 28, 2009

Aren't MOST posters vertical?

And isn't MOST paper vertical i.e. portrait?
posted by randomstriker at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2009

Depends on how you hold the paper.
posted by hydrophonic at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

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