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Movie Poster Artists

page 1: Unseen Movie Posters
page 2: More Lost Movie Poster Designs
page 3: Son of Unseen Movie Posters
page 4: Yet Again, Unseen Movie Poster Designs

page 5: Movie Trailers of the 80s-90s
Page 6: Inside Seiniger Advertising - 1988
Page 7: Seiniger Advertising Christmas Party 1989

Tony Seiniger
Tony Seiniger 1986. He guided campaigns for nearly 1,000 motion pictures in a thirty year span as head of Seiniger Advertising.

Movie Trailers of the Early-'90s
by
Billy Ingram

Movie poster artists / Seiniger AdvertisingThe elusive goal of motion picture advertising is deceptively simple - to get as many posteriors as possible into theater seats on opening weekend. Success means that the studio will (hopefully) ignite that all important word-of-mouth advertising that ultimately determines a long run and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales.

Movie trailers (the previews that precede the movie you paid to see) and TV ads are the most dynamic aspects of a successful marketing campaign.

With a few exceptions, these spots were created at Seiniger Advertising where I worked from the mid-'80s through the mid-'90s. Tony Seiniger just recently retired after three decades creating some of the most successful motion picture ad campaigns of all time.


Seiniger Advertising logo(Seiniger artists posing for a sketch artist - left to right: Unknown artist, Alex Swart (in back), Christian Struzan, David Jewett in 1992.)

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Flashback / 1990
Film Trailer 1:30

Scored at the box office thanks to a vibrant campaign that played to the film's strengths - a FAST moving buddy film led by a terrific cast with cross generational appeal.
Note that this trailer gives away the storyline, from start to finish, in hopes that customers will want to experience what's left; in this case, they did.

The Fugitive / 1994
Film Trailer 2:00

No question, this was one of the most effective movie previews of all time. Combining bold typography, moments of searing tension and jarring visuals, giving away only the set-up of the film to get the audience piqued.
The moonlit footage here of Richard Kimble running through the woods was shot especially for this trailer by Tony Seiniger, after the film was finished, with a body double for star Harrison Ford. Footage from the movie itself couldn't be used because it lacked the silhouette value needed to make the typography read. In this way, messages can be layered on top of one another without stopping the action.
 


Wyatt Earp
/ 1994
Film Trailer 3:00

Poetic and lilting, this trailer lures you in with romantic notions of the old west and Kevin Costner's alleged sexual heat. Coming on the heels of the phenomenal success of Clint Eastwood's western Unforgiven, this motion picture looked like a sure winner but fizzled instead.
Costner's career was on a precipitous downward slide by 1994, everyone knew it but Warner Bros. who banked heavily on his languishing appeal to lure in the faithful. Another challenge for the editors of this trailer: movie-goers sat through essential the same story in Tombstone, released a few months earlier by a rival studio. Editors had to hide the storyline in this preview for fear of audience deja vu.


Sleeping With
The Enemy
/ 1992
TV spot :30

A perfect example of creating suspense and atmosphere to draw in the potential audience in quickly. TV ads only have 30 seconds to create dramatic tension, when movie trailers can, in some cases, take 5 times that long.
The appropriate ambience was accomplished by displaying young, vivacious Julia Roberts at her most vulnerable, lingering in a bubble bath, hinting at the danger she's facing.
Roberts was already heating up the box office in 1992; with a strong ad campaign and a title that perfectly conveyed the high concept, 20th Century Fox bagged the hit they were looking for.
 


Total Recall
/ 1990
Film Trailer 2:10
Sometimes its necessary in a trailer to exploit most (or all) of the exciting footage a movie offers. You're hoping audiences will think, "That was great - I'll bet there's a lot more thrills (or laughs) ahead!" But there almost never is. This is a desperate ploy but you take the money any way you can get it when there are tens of millions of dollars at stake.


Geronimo / 1994
Film trailer 3:00

A fine example of those deep voice-over, "In a world where..." narratives; the announcer was Don LaFontaine, he worked a lot for Seiniger.
The studio pulled out all the stops to promote this big-budget epic Walter Hill western but the multi-million dollar ad campaign saturation was severely undermined by a TBS TV-movie about Geronimo that debuted the week before this motion picture opened. Dirty trick, TBS!
This campaign was a massive success in a way - except that people tuned in to the free TV-movie in record numbers but saw no need to pay to see Geronimo in the theaters.


Cliffhanger / 1993
Movie Trailer 2:30

Cutting a 2 1/2 minute trailer is akin to crafting a small film from a larger film.
In this example, all dialogue is stripped away while the action scenes are crowded together and 'Ride of the Valkyries' is overlayed for maximum dramatic effect.
This trailer exploits all of the best scenes from the movie without giving away the entire storyline, a technique that occasionally works - but only if it hasn't been done in a while. This style of ad is ripe for parody.

Here's a great example of re-branding a movie star - Sylvester Stallone starring in a family comedy, Oscar. Note the familiar classical tune in the background, used a lot in movie trailers.


Flatliners / 1990
TV spot :30
A
particular challenge comes when you have a picture packed with stars and a less than obvious concept. T
here's not time in this 30 second TV commercial to do much more than introduce the cast, then offer a glimpse of the movie's dark vision.
As with the accompanying print advertising, the most effective campaigns will utilize rave reviews to convince movie-goers that this will be a safe date night pick. Of course, the film has to earn some good reviews for this to work, although there are dozens of reviewers for lesser known publications that seem to like any awful movie they see - in hopes of being quoted in quote ads.

 

 

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Toy Soldiers / 1991
TV spot :30
Fast and loud often works for TV because you have to cut through the clutter of competing ads. The obstacle becomes - can you be loud, frenetic and still be clear?
In thirty seconds, the editor of this commercial mines the movie's sweet spots to full effect; starting with a bang and cleanly rendering up the plotline for your approval. The public liked what they saw and crowded the theaters.


The Getaway / 1993 
TV spot :30
Star wattage plus fire power doesn't always equal box office punch - in fact, it can sometimes get in the way. Action scenes and conflict between characters are combined to give the viewer a sense of how thrilling this movie was (supposed to be).
The Getaway
flopped in part
because the film itself failed to deliver sufficient entertainment value.
Another case of relying on stars who were well past their prime to pull in a crowd.

 


Movie Poster Artists

page 1: Unseen Movie Posters
page 2: More Lost Movie Poster Designs
page 3: Son of Unseen Movie Posters
page 4: Yet Again, Unseen Movie Poster Designs

page 5: Movie Trailers of the 80s-90s
Page 6: Inside Seiniger Advertising - 1988
Page 7: Seiniger Advertising Christmas Party 1989



Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels
/ 1988
TV spot :30

This commercial reflected the zaniness of the motion picture without giving away much about the plot. And it worked beautifully because of the mis-matched co-stars - Steve Martin and Michael Caine.


Misery / 1991 
TV spot :15
When a film initially scores well at the box office, as with this example, studios create a fresh crop of TV ads to further drive those hesitant butts into the seats (or get others to see the film a second time). When a film opens during the holiday season, smart marketers will capitalize on that and introduce Christmas themes in the follow-up TV ads.

Home Alone / 1990
TV spot :30
The Christmas season is one of the biggest for the motion picture industry, naturally studios advertise heavily on TV during December. Home Alone stands as one of the most effective holiday campaigns of all time, thanks to brilliant TV spots that sold the Christmas sizzle without the help of big stars. This was a follow-up campaign that crafted a new jingle from a famous Christmas Carol, an oft-used technique.

A big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars is coming soon, I enjoyed those books as an adolescent and I suppose the technology is there to do it right. The Martians look great anyway, the trailer:

 

That style of teaser has become very popular, the kinetic build at the end containing all the best action scenes cut together with the Wagner-esque music blaring. That was the invention of the editing team at Seiniger Advertising in the 1990s. If I recall correctly Cliffhanger would have been the first film to employ that style, I did the title graphics for it in 1993. (I always stick my foot in it when I rely on memory.) That trailer was a game changer and was largely responsible for a big opening weekend:

Notice how similar the trailer for Star Trek was to that one, just slower with added dialogue:

 

Now the most often used format is teasing bold scenes that go to black; slow it down in the middle; then crank up the Wagner and jam together every great visual in the film in 30 seconds or less. It beats the kind of trailer that tells the entire story of the movie, always a most desperate ploy for a lousy film. 

   


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