There's been a plague in the movie marketing world of late. Virtually every major release — and seemingly most minor ones as well — is going far beyond single one-sheet artwork to sell its wares. Along with teasers, arty Mondo-type versions, IMAX editions and everything else in between, posters are released showcasing seemingly every last cast member in the movie.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" has 17 character posters doing the rounds. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2" had over 20. In some cases — "The Avengers" for example — we can see the value, up to a point (the Clark Gregg one-sheet was probably going too far). But all too often, the posters feature B-list names playing minor characters, and it's a struggle to imagine who in the world would want them hung on their walls. With 2012 coming to an end, we thought we'd explore on the following pages some of the most pointless character posters that emerged over the past year.
1. Rhys Ifans in "The Amazing Spider-Man"
Sony's reboot of their biggest franchise did well, though failed to match the totals of Sam Raimi's films worldwide. And we'd lay the blame for any box-office shortfalls directly on this horrifying Japanese one-sheet, featuring an incredibly sweaty photo of the wacky best friend from "Notting Hill."
2. John Goodman in "Argo"
Marketing "Argo," a '70s period piece mostly set in rooms full of filing cabinets, was always going to be a tricky job. Making it out to be a wacky comedy about a weird Halloween dinner party probably wasn't the answer. Thankfully, the film was a success regardless.
3. The entire cast of 'Breaking Dawn Part 2'
Given the fervent fanbase, it's perhaps not entirely surprising that every single person with a speaking role in the final 'Twilight' seemed to get their own character poster. Every one of them was deathly dull, but particular scorn should be given to these two, featuring Patrick Brennan and Marlane Barnes as Irish vampires Liam and Maggie. Not only were their parts minuscule (they're listed 36th and 38th in the credits, respectively), but they're also dressed like extras from John Huston's "The Dead." Memo to costume designer Michael Wilkinson: Irish people no longer dress like that, even if they are undead.
4. Susan Sarandon in "Cloud Atlas"
Wondering why "Cloud Atlas" failed to connect with audiences and became a giant flop? Look no further. This has to be one of the most baffling pieces of marketing we've ever seen.
5. Jackie Earle Haley in "Dark Shadows"
Everyone's favorite Tiger Beat heartthrob, Jackie Earle Haley, graced not one, but two one-sheets for "Dark Shadows," each as pointless as the other. Presumably this came out of contractual obligation or something?
6. Toshiaki in "Frankenweenie"
Are your kids fans of crude, sour racial caricatures? The perfect Christmas gift has arrived in the form of this one-sheet featuring Toshiaki, the deeply offensive throwback villain of double-offender Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie." In the film's defense, it's sort of redeemed by the cool B-movie poster you'll find below. And it was far from the only other film to give an offensive Asian character poster time — "Pitch Perfect" managed one too.
7. Giovanni Ribisi in "Gangster Squad"
Technically a 2013 movie (though not when the poster was released), we nevertheless thought we should include this one. Partly because in its inherent pointlessness, it was the inspiration for this whole feature. And partly because it's a poster starring Phoebe's brother from "Friends." Points deducted both because it doesn't even feature him doing something cool with a gun like his costars, and for relegating the ever-awesome Anthony Mackie to background status.
8. This Guy in "The Hunger Games"
We saw "The Hunger Games." We enjoyed "The Hunger Games." And yet once we worked out that this wasn't Josh Hutcherson, we still had no idea who this dude was.
9. Nathan Lane in "Mirror Mirror"
How do you compete with a mega-budget rival film about the same story, featuring moody, action-packed images of A-listers Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron? With an overlit picture of Broadway star Nathan Lane dressed as a Regency prince, with inexplicable emphasis placed on his glasses.
10. Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko in "Seven Psychopaths"
Our theory about these two is that the sole actresses in Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths" were worried that friends and families might pop out for a toilet break during the film and miss their brief, thinly-written characters entirely (combined screen time: about seven minutes). So they asked to be on posters, complete with condescending taglines! (Though in fairness, "passive-aggressive girlfriend" is about the entirety of Cornish's character).
Thomas Ian Nichols in "American Reunion"
Marc-Andre Grondin in "Goon"
Some Guy In A Suit in "The Lorax"
John Cusack in "The Paperboy"
Sonic The Hedgehog, for some reason, in "Wreck-It Ralph"