Text in movie posters tells us important information. The title of the movie, the names of the main actors, positive reviews…all are things that may be revealed on a poster. These texts work to frame the images into a certain state of mind for the viewer, indicating that the image they are looking at, the layering of characters and scenes and objects, is going to create this central movie idea.
Sounds plausible, right? Like a good semiotic argument for the way iconic text fonts inspire meaning in what producers hope will be similarly iconic movies.
Except that everyone has done it. Turn now to Kirby Ferguson for what he thinks about Trajan fonts.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead of meaning being made by an origin that nobody except font junkies would recognize, meaning is made simply through being a movie. Our eyes have seen so many similar fonts that now all we think is “we are about to watch a movie”. Cutting out the middle man of the Trajan column, we associate Trajan font to an epic movie. The Trajan font itself is an icon for a “about to watch a movie.” Even if it causes frustration for the people who are accustomed to looking at these types of things.
So the image of the titles of movies on movie posters, before you can even analyze the words themselves, try to reinforce what the movie is going to be about. Like other elements in the movie posters, the creator of the image tries to cram as much information as possible into the small space so the viewer will know what to expect.