Please bear with me while I rant about something that I find particularly lame.

Historically speaking, movie posters have usually been formulaic and cliché to some degree. They generally reflect the cultural trends, marketing fads and design standards of the day. Typography plays a major role in advertising a movie, and it’s interesting to see how typeface trends in movie posters have changed over the past century.

In recent years, one typeface in particular has become one of Hollywood’s biggest uncredited stars. For whatever reason, Bank Gothic is now the default font for any movie involving guns, explosions, aliens, mythology, or robots. It’s almost like some law was passed that requires the entertainment industry to use it in at least 75% of all advertising.



A small sampling of recent movie posters with Bank Gothic

It’s not hard to see Bank Gothic’s appeal through the eyes of the average Hollywood art director. Its extended, squared-off letters say to the casual viewer, “trust me, serious action is definitely in store for you here”. Still, the fact that so many of them decide to use the same exact font to define the graphic identity of the movies they’re associated with is comical. Either there’s a conspiracy of some sort, or most of these people are uninspired and lazy. There are dozens of far better typefaces to choose from, yet most of them just go with Bank Gothic. It’s the Arial Narrow of the entertainment industry.

It could be that Bank Gothic’s prevalence is simply another manifestation of Hollywood’s near-total inability to come up with anything original. Quite likely, studio analysts have determined that Bank Gothic has been proven to “work” as far as other movies’ box office returns are concerned. A call is made, the underpaid art director sighs in agreement, and he tells his staff “Same as last time, guys”. Just like that, the next Bank Gothic-centered marketing campaign begins.

Still, even when such things happen, someone in the process occasionally decides to get a little clever. They play it safe by using Bank Gothic, but then add a little bit of their own flair by pulling part of a letter out (usually to make it look like a blade) or adding something else. The folks behind the abysmal recent  Clash of the Titans movies did this, as have many others. One particularly disappointing example of this is the campaign for one of the Wolverine movies:


Rank half-assery.

This is ridiculous. Whoever did this not only thought it was OK to stretch the type horizontally, but also decided it’d be cool to randomly add fake serifs to certain letters. Not consistently, mind you, but hey – it’s edgy and unpredictable. Just like… Wolverine!
Hey, maybe it does work!


Now that you’re aware of the Bank Gothic problem, take a closer look at new movie posters when they come out. I predict that for a while, we’ll continue to see this one font massively overused for no readily apparent reason.