Ripoff Artistry, pt. 1

An Education in Copying

In honor of this year’s Oscars (which have already passed, sorry) I thought we’d take a closer look at one of this year’s Best Picture noms: An Education. But I’m more interested in the key art than I am in the actual film. The film may or may not be good – I don’t know. It may make it into our Netflix queue… or not.

What’s of particular note is the striking resemblance the poster has to a film from 1999 called A Walk on the Moon, starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen, also which I have not seen. But movie posters often stick in my head, so I knew I had seen this look before, remembering Diane Lane being part of it. I was surprised to notice just how similar the two posters are. Better yet, both films are set during the same decade and deal with illicit relations, so apparently we’re establishing that head spooning on the ground with a woman in a flowery dress ought to be associated with domestic disenfranchisement during the 1960s. Noted.


This led me to consider all the other movie posters I’ve noticed over the years that bear a striking resemblance to one another and I thought it’d make a good blog series. I realize there are probably far more examples than I’m posting (not to mention the oft regurgitated concepts like floating heads, the actor stack, etc. ), but over the next few posts I’ll share some of the best, or worst, examples of ripoff artistry. As someone currently designing a movie poster for a friend’s feature film debut, I understand the hard work it takes to create an image at once iconic, intriguing and descriptive. But of course when that fails, you can always steal someone else’s idea.

Swinging for the Fences

I remember spotting this little little bit of impostery on the video shelves back in the day, marveling at how the key art designer for Late Last Night must have said, “if I add some girlies in the corner and flip Emilio so he’s holding the martini with his right hand, no one will be the wiser .” Of course, the coup de grace is the review tagline just inside Estevez’s armpit that reads: “Much better than Swingers.” Obviously.


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