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THE WHY SERIES: Why Don’t Movie Poster Names NEVER Line Up to the actual poster?!

If you have ever been keen, you will often notice that the names at the top of the movie poster and the actors below them do not match.

Why is that? Is the movie industry so lazy that they could not be bothered just to align the actors to their names?

Well, this is done very deliberately, and it is often about money.

  1. 1 Billing

    The actors whose name appear first in the movie are usually said to have top billing in other words, they are supposed to be paid the most.

    Top-billed names are mostly placed at the far left as it is assumed that this is the first thing the moviegoer will read. The top-billed actor is usually the most famous and recognizable. This means that more people will pay more attention to the movie, leading to the production house making more money.

    So next time you go to the movies, and you want to know who the most famous actor in the movie is, look at the name that appears furthest left.

    Many actors specially insist that they get top billing in the movie no matter what, even if they are not the main character in the film. Meaning they may not be the most significant character in the film but the best-known actor in the movie and still get their names placed on the far left of the movie.

  2. 2 Billboard posters

    The mind automatically sees the first name on the furthest left and assumes that that is the most important element of the movie. But what about the actual poster?

    Well, in this case, the script is flipped (pun intended). Movie scientists and marketing experts discovered that the brain conceptualizes that the person position in the center, but slightly in the right is the most crucial figure in the movie.

    The design of the poster often follows as the central figure in the center, but slightly to the right. The villain to his left, the sidekick to his right, and the damsel in distress to the farthest of his right.

  3. 3 So why not change the system?

    This throws in a whole new factor to the equation. Hollywood agents, especially don’t want it changed. 

    Why? Because if they change the billing system, they will not get the big bonus cut received for getting their client top billing. So the system will remain this confusing as long as the agents get their money. What is logic after all?

  4. 4 So what happens if there are two stars of equal fame?

    This usually creates a lot of mess and the reason we don’t see many stars in the same movie very often. But in such situations, Hollywood has come up with a nifty little trick.

    They place one of the actors’ names on the furthest left and the other big star next to them but above the rest of the names. So, in essence, they both get a position of power on the poster.

    More recently top billing for top actors has been solved alphabetically, but this has not worked out many times.

    But something that is actually working is the “last billing” system. In this situation, the big name is given the last entry in the names. They are placed furthest from the list of names with an additional “and” before their name, or his name is written with more significant bolder letters to give him authority in the poster.

    This is how it has been and maybe how it will always be.

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