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July 15 2005

Coming Soon Has A Look At The New Serenity Poster. I don't know if this is the final poster, but the guys over at Coming Soon took a picture of it anyway.

Ick. That is just a hideous poster. Hope that's not the final.
Boo. Mal should be front and center, not ghosted in the background. His and River's positions should be switched, and the crew shots need to be waaay bigger.
that's a strange poster, I was hoping for a more whole cast thingie.
It could even be something more Star Wars-ish poster wise. You know, bit cryptic drawing, with some things from the movie itself.
I do think the River part of the poster looks good (assuming they take away all the text). But the rest looks crap (especially the miniature floating heads).
It LOOKS like the poster for a low-budget TV movie -- just the perception the studio should be trying to combat.
I kinda' like it. The small inserted pictures of the remaining cast could be better, but I like the focus on River. Dangerous with an edge of mystery.
I think its a great teaser image. I doubt its in any way a 'final' poster, I imagine we will see a couple more like this. I'd love to see focus on a couple of the other crew, but I dig it. Anyone wanna join my 'diggin it' party?
I'm digging it BUT I agree with what people are saying,it doesn't look like a movie poster,it looks like a poster you would buy at a walmart poster stand.The poster can't be cryptic.For non-fans it tells you nothing.Plus the headshots of the crew look horrble,zoe looks possessed,wash,kaylee,inara and jayne look like there confused about something,book looks angry,and simon looks like he is squinting.To be fair I did some more looking and the pic was takin at what appears to be the TITAN booth,the book company releasing the serenity companion.The plot thickens..........................
There is no accounting for taste.

So I guess that means I must have bad taste, because I Love that poster. I havenít seen the film yet (seeing it next Tuesday), but I kind of got the feeling that River is the main focus of the movie, so having her (and Mal) as the prominent image on poster make sense to me.

And Yes, I want one (and Iíll have one of the posters to).
I think it's beautiful.
Although the heads in the corner could be a tad bigger.
I think the poster looks cool...I would be curious about any movie with a weirdo poster like that. I have seen 'Serenity' and I think it works, it doesn't tell the story, but it hints at some aspects.... There would be room for more, different posters too.
Whoa. I think it's cool.
Anybody else notice that it looks like the tagline has changed? From "You Can't Stop the Signal" to "The Future Is Worth Fighting For"? Or is it normal for a promotional campaign to have more than one tagline? Personally I thought the first one was cheesy and I like this one better.
very cool tagline indeed
I love it too. :)
As a poster for us flans and Browncoats, I like it. I think the line "The Future is Worth Fighting For" is fitting for that poster. But it seems as though that image of a young woman who looks like she's been through hell, holding a gun and a large but faint image of some guy looming behind her isn't going to tell general audiences enough to pull them in. They'll be able to tell it's science fiction because of the spaceship and the slogan. But I don't know that it's going to intrigue people who don't know about FIREFLY. Maybe it is just a teaser.
I don't see credits or a Universal copyright or anything on it. Couple that with what nakedandarticulate said -- I don't think it's an official movie poster, advance, final, or otherwise. At least, I hope not.
Well, I like neither the poster nor the tagline. Obviously a poster can't convey the depth or intricacies of a movie, but it could be a little, well, cooler looking - maybe some retro art, an interesting posture, something. But that's utterly subjective, natch. And if it's one of a series, I suppose it might complement some of the other yet-unseen ones.

"The Future Is Worth Fighting For" just doesn't do anything for me at all. Blandly generic, IMHO.
I do think it's a teaser---and please fellow flans dont get me wrong--I want one!!!! :) Im just a worry wort,just want the big damn heroes to keep flyin in sequels,and for that to happen ya need "the masses"
I'm with the ick faction.

I spent a few minutes trying to like it. Nope. Still squicked.
Eh, I don't really like it. It looks okay, and maybe as one of a series, I may like it better. But, it seems to me if someone were curious about the film based on this poster, and hunted down serenitymovie.com, then they're going to see the Serenity logo, the Chinese influence of it, and be a little thrown.
It is an official Universal poster - they did 4 for market research. (I wrote about it on this very website about 2 weeks ago and described that one) ;)
I think it's perfect. There's no movie poster like that right now, and it really helps differentiate this one from the pack. Considering that River's story is apparently the main focus of the movie, it's appropriate that she be front and center.
The poster has a coolness factor that might work well as a teaser (think of a one-sheet like this for each member of the crew).

As a final release poster, it's just not very representative of the movie. It's way too generic to draw people into the 'verse.
Oh, I didn't notice 'The Future Is Worth Fighting For' tag. Now I'm having nightmares of that 'X-Files' movie....lets not go there. Still, I like the profile of River with Mal overlooking her. And the shadow text is interesting though a bit over used in this poster.

This isn't the final poster, agree it's just a teaser to get people's reactions. Which I guess they are....hmmm.
SNT is correct about the tagline.

"You Can't Stop The Signal" was obtuse but serviceable.

This one's worse. Generic and plain ol' boring.

If Universal markets "Serenity"/"Firefly" worse than Fox did, I am not gonna be happy. I'm guessing Joss won't either.
The poster doesn't really convey the look and feel of Firefly . For example, the entire poster is Underworld-blue but Firefly is more colorful. For me, even a poster with just the serenity badge would have caught my attention more if I didn't know about the movie. I would have thought, "that's interesting, I wonder what that is." Combine that with the trailer and I would have wanted to see it.

The tagline should be: "Let's be bad guys" I'm just saying...
Oh, i'm dancing on the table at zeitgeist's houseparty (i know...i know...shocker). LOVE the image...and while i'd never turn down larger shots of our BDH, Serenity really is about Mal and River. To sell it as otherwise could be misleading. (Plus, isn't it just we-folk that are invested in the crew...no one else is going to miss them. *ducks flying rations*)

Agree with SNT re: the tagline 'tho. "The Future is Worth Fighting For?" Falls pretty flat with me, along with "Can't Stop the Signal" (and "Mr. Universe" as a character name). All seem vague, without nuance, and meaningless-while-trying-to-convey-sense-of-mysterious-coolass-meaningfulness, to me. Pretty unJossian, from where i stand, which makes me suspect the marketing boobs had a hand in some of this stuff...
Everyone is far too concerned with presenting the "feeling" of the Firefly-verse. The problem is that the Firefly-verse isn't exactly appealing to mainstream audiences. It's different, intelligent, complex, and challenging.

The fact of the matter is Universal doesn't need to get people who know about Firefly into the theater. That'd be preaching to the choir. They need to present a typical action-packed Sci-Fi romp, and let people be surprised when it turns out to be something much more.

[ edited by ringworm on 2005-07-15 19:29 ]
It's not that bad. I agree with bobtaylor about it looking more like a made-for-tv movie ad than a theatrical poster, but it's not as horrific as some are claiming. I also agree with ringworm that the general public promo efforts for this film absolutely do NOT need to focus on what us Browncoats think. We already know about Firefly and know that the story is amazing and original. John Q. Public however just needs to be duped into the theater with promises of sci-fi action, spaceships, explosions and hot chicks with guns. Once they've bought their popcorn and plopped their asses into the seats, THEN they can discover what the rest of us already know.

Having said that, I personally would rather see a campaign that highlights a tad more of the "western in space" aspects of the series... maybe a series of wanted poster one-sheets for each crew member? That would be strictly for us dyed-in-the-wool Browncoats though.
Truly awful. Ugly, uninspiring, and totally not in tune with the whole Firefly feeling. Just horrendous.

It looks less like a space western than a crappy psycho-thriller. Just horrible.
If was was running Universal's marketing department (and I should be), my tagline would be something like:

A rogue captain pushed to the brink.
A dangerous psychic holding a powerful secret.
A band of outlaws on the run from the law.

Meet the future's newest good guys.


Now, I took about five minutes to think that up. And it's certainly pretty rough. Yet I think it's STILL better than what Universal is coming up with.
Oh very nice, I like. Though it doesn't half remind me of another movie poster.
WANTED!
Big Damn Heroes
Yeah I like the poster I'd go so far as to say it's shiny, have to say though I don't like the tagline.
Looks odd... The idea is nice but I'm not happy with the outcome.
Like ringworm, I think the focus of the marketing should be attracting the general public to an "action-packed Sci-Fi romp". I'd go so far as to suggest changing the title (heresy-I know) to something more accessible to the masses.
I love the poster. I just don't like the little heads at the bottom. I have a horrible bias against floating heads on posters.
Oy. Not very impressive, not very impressive at all.
bobtaylor: you're hired.

I hear ringworm's point that marketing to the uninitiated must be distinct from marketing to browncoats; nevertheless, there must be a middle ground (ah, the elusive middle ground) between an overly-inside campaign, and one that resorts to cliched imagery and phrases. Can't it be both cool and appealing to the general public?

Personally, I think CinV nailed it: the poster does look like one of those for a crappy psycho thriller, bearing a two word title like "Lethal Encounters" or "Explicit Rendezvous."
[T]here must be a middle ground between an overly-inside campaign, and one that resorts to cliched imagery and phrases. Can't it be both cool and appealing to the general public?

When it comes to science fiction (or any genre movie for that matter) I really don't think it can. It's possible there was a time when it could (like the late '70s), but in the wake of Independance Day and War of the Worlds, I think the masses look for certain things in their science fiction. Character development and nuanced ethical dilemmas are not that interesting to most people. Being different is a liability more often than not.

Maybe I'm jaded.

[ edited by ringworm on 2005-07-15 20:31 ]
I like it, but I agree the tagline sucks. But if this was for sale right now online, I'd buy it. I'm going to buy every Serenity movie poster they release. And then frame them and put them on my wall. Can't wait!!!
Well, I would point out again that 4 posters were produced with different styles, different images, different characters - this one favoured best with Joe Public.

Unfortunately, what didn't sell Firefly: western, Sci-Fi. What did sell Firefly? Witty dialogue, good story. How do you put that in a poster? You don't. But you do your best.

Those thinking a western poster with "Let's Be Bad Guys" on it will sell, you know... If it sold well to Jo Public, they'd use it.
I love it!! Was surprised to see how many didn't when I came here to post my absolute love for it! But then again I am a flanatic so I'd probably love anything verse related!
gossi-
do you know what the other images were in the other 4 posters?
I'm really lukewarm on the poster. It looks rather derivative to me, and, yes, a little cheap. I, too, think the blue is the wrong choice. Even the same design in warmer colors would seem more appropriate (blue=blue gloves, Blue Sun), like the colors of the logo. They wouldn't have to be as intense. I understand that this was one of four posters, and that Joe/Jo Public selected it over the others. But this makes me think that none of the four choices was particularly strong. Since the younger portion of the public has had little exposure to Westerns, it does not surprise me that the Western style might not resonate. But this just isn't catchy visually, IMO. And I really want bobtaylor's text!
I stand completely corrected - although this is an 'official' poster in the sense Universal did it, this isn't the final one. It's been changed. "This is not actually the official one-sheet. But look for one very soon."
Huh.

First impression: Definitely doesn't have that warm-brownish-orange, dusty-Western look I associate with Firefly. The blue tone is probably designed to thematically unify the disparate images while giving the whole thing a kinda cyberpunky/action-flickish vibe. Makes me think Terminator or something equally big and blustery, heavy on the usual sci-fi trappings (ships, gadgets, etc.). I like that River's packing heat, only my initial thought was, "gun should be bigger." (Maybe it's intentional of the marketing department to subtly intimate that she's the real 'big gun' in the film, but I can't help thinking that thing she's holding doesn't look very dangerous or threatening, and you know how action fans love them some big-ass weapons.)

Looking at it on a purely visual level, a bigger gun would balance the heavier weight of images and words on the right side of the poster. Or if not bigger, at least make the gun more interesting-looking -- action fans care about these details, and anything to make them come up close and check the picture out helps imprint it in the mind. Going back to the color palette, I think the poster would benefit hugely overall from bringing in some more orange, the complement of blue -- that would make it pop. Our eyes instinctively jump to pick out contrast and chromatic harmony in everything we see, but that hot little jet-trail from Serenity herself isn't strong enough to balance the overwhelming uniformity of chilly blue.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's terrible (the photography is all right, I like the faded words in the background) ... it's just really, really different from what I had been anticipating. From a graphic design perspective there's stuff I think they could do to make it more visually exciting and potentially more appealing and effective -- like a little more of River's face being visible -- which I hope they consider before using this as the final promotional image.

[Edit: Missed the prior post. Glad to hear there's another version on the way!]

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2005-07-16 05:45 ]
I am wondering what other one they are using now, to be honest - this one was one of the better ones in my humble opinions.

Certainly, the film is coloured towards blue quite often, so hence that poster looked quite Serenity to me. But each to their own.
I agree with SNT....Bobtaylor, Universal should hire you to help them with posters! Even if I had never heard of Firefly or Serenity, that would interest me! :-)
I agree with Wiseblood's idea of using contrasting colors. I love blue and orange together. I agree that this poster would be prettier if they added more color.
I suppose it's sort of similar to Blade Runner's poster. I like it as a fan but I'm not sure if that's how I would go to get someone interested in the movie. Nothing against the cast but they aren't "names" yet. If you are going to feature them show them doing something intesting. I imagine someone's first reaction if they didn't know who Mal or River was would be to make a judgement based on how attractive they thought Summer and/or Nathan are. That's really all they are given. I also prefer the "Let's be bad guys" tag but again without a point of reference it means little. Maybe "In the future, the bad guys are really the good guys."
I think Simon nailed it. 'The Wild Bunch'. That theme would work well with this poster.
God, it's like I'm about to watch the Terminator movie. Unfortunately, I brought up the Serenity trailer to a lot of friends and not one of them seemed interested enough. :(
After thinking about it another five minutes, I'm altering my tagline a bit. Here's the new version:

A rogue captain at the edge of space.
A dangerous fugitive with a powerful secret.
A band of outlaws on the run from the law.

Meet the future's newest good guys.


I got rid of "pushed to the brink," which sounds pretty cheesy. (Plus "edge of space" better identifies the sci-fi theme.) Plus I changed "psychic" to "fugitive" because while a sci-fi bent won't discourage too many average moviegoers, a sci-fi movie with psychics to boot may seem like overkill to some genre-allergic folk.

I like playing the tagline game. "Wanted: Big Damn Heroes" is very cool, but I agree it just wouldn't help grab new people. Any other ideas?


A rogue captain at the edge of space.
A dangerous fugitive with a powerful secret.
A band of outlaws on the run from the law.

Meet the future's newest good guys.


I have to disagree. To me, even if the poster isn't really cool, the tagline "the future is worth fighting for" fits exactly the show and Mal's behaviour.

The sentence you propose, bobtaylor, sounds to me quite "classical" and, besides, way too descriptive, too precise. The kind of stuff thats makes me think "baahh, another star-trek/wars show, with a team made of stereotypes as it is in 99% of sci-fi show... I'll way to rent it in DVD...".

On the other hand, "the future is worth fighting for" is more elusive, giving only two (but the most important ones) leads on the show: it is in the future, and there is a fight. Not necessary a gunray or spaceship fight: the tagline suggests more of a fight of ideals. And this is precisely what Mal is doing: although the battle of Serenity marked the end of the independance-alliance war, Mal keeps on fighting for the world he wants, not the world the alliance imposed. And this is precisely this fight that made him take river&sam under his wing, which seems to be at the origin of the main story of the film.

So I'd rather have a non-descriptive, although correct and incitative, tagline rather than a too descriptive one which is prompt to make the people think about stereotypes (I recognize that "fighting for the future" also falls into the stereotype [anyway, any tagline easily falls into stereotype] but, at least, it stays quite generic; besides, the word "worth" is not to be taken lightly... it gives a feeling that reminds me of the doubts I sometimes feel in Mal and his crew when they realize how the alliance could crush them so easily... but some things are worth risking such a crush).
Well we all know that Joss is pretty much obsessed with the Peckinpah classic 'The Wild Bunch'. I see nothing inappropriate in paying homage to that film when promoting 'Serenity'.

The original tagline for 'The Wild Bunch' was:

"Suddenly a new West has emerged. Suddenly it was sundown for nine men. Suddenly their day was over. Suddenly the sky was bathed in blood."

So how could we adapt that for our purposes?
Hmmm. Just don't know. Don't think I like the poster much. Same as said above, too cold, too psycho thriller. But I think I like the tagline. I don't know if it is good for the advertising that when I read it, I did not really notice it per se. I just thought it made sense in reference to Mal and the others. I do not know if it would catch the attention of someone who did not know anything about Firefly or the movie. Still like it better than "Can't stop the signal" though.

Focusing on Mal and River also makes sense and I do not have a problem with that. It seems like they were trying to get that "River is capable of some strange and dangerous stuff and Mal is not sure what to make of it or her." dynamic in the poster. If they got it, great, but I don't think that is going to come across to most people...but what do I know? Maybe if the tagline and the picture tied together better, it would hit me more forcefully. I mean if it is about the future being worth fighting for, shouldn't that be what the picture is about?

Yeah, that's what doesn't work for me in this. The tagline is about one thing and the pictures are about a bunch of other things. It needs to have something specific to say, and say it. Is it about this ecclectic group fighting for the future, or a strange psycho girl and a guy who is trying to figure her out, or (oo, oo I know) a battle betweeen this guy and the psycho girl for some heads that have been put in cryogenic stasis meant to be thawed out and attached to bodies in order join the fight to save the future. (Sorry about that last one. I just got home from work and am a little out of control at the moment, but you get the idea.)
The "Serenity" logo was designed to fit in with the Chinese lettering and the look of the ship, and served its purpose in that sense...but paired with those sharp, futuristic fonts that look typical for any sci-fi movie, it looks ridiculous. I wasn't insanely in love with the Serenity logo itself (I liked the Firefly logo more), but I at least really liked how it was so atypical to other sci-fi logos, as to show that the movie is something different.

The poster looks like it was designed by someone who didn't even see the movie. Sharp sci-fi fonts and icy shades of blue aren't what Serenity is about at all. The Serenity universe offers infinite, cooler possibilities from a design standpoint; whoever designed the Firefly opening credits had them dead on. You have sci-fi, Western, and Chinese influences, and incorporating any two (or all three) of those in a poster could make it clear that the movie was something original, making it look intriguing. But instead, the poster just looks like the designer took the most boring option possible by making only the sci-fi route looking clearly visible.

I personally don't see, as a designer, how you could take this route when so many more interesting ideas are right in front of your face. And considering that whoever designed the original logo aimed to go with the Chinese influence, they should follow through with it. The old-fashioned look of the Serenity logo font being slapped up against that futuristic font thoughtlessly just drives me insane, thinking of how the juxtaposition of the sci-fi and Chinese elements could have looked so cool.
meimi: amen I say to you, amen, amen!

Get back to the original FF sensibility...not icy blue (and a River who doesn't look like River)...basics, please...
Little Damn Heroes?
*snort* Good one, HudsonVC.
I also wish more of the Asian look had been used in this poster, but I'm wondering if Universal, in considering how they'll market Serenity when it opens worldwide, diluted the Chinese emphasis out of concern over potentially offending viewers in China or other Asian countries? That could explain the sort of tentative approach I see here.

I mean, if they don't want to get too explicit with the Chinese elements, they could just put River in a cheongsam-like shirt with the familiar wrap-over vee-neck top and frog fastenings, or even a more generic-style wrap shirt. And instead of doing it in heavy satin brocade (which is more Inara's style anyway), render it in that same clingy black fabric she's wearing in the poster. It's still got the original's unobtrusive sleekness, only now there's a visual clue in the image that hints at something deeper without punching viewers in the face. Because River's the focus of the poster, she's carrying 90% of the weight of information being conveyed. Visually exploiting that could only make it stronger.

I don't want to get completely down on Uni's efforts, though, because at least it appears they're trying to nail down an image. Working in graphic design myself, I appreciate that the complexity of Serenity makes it that much trickier to distill for mainstream consumption using a few static images. (I also get that they're trying hard not to spoil any scenes from the film, which is thoughtful for Browncoats who're waiting for the premiere.) But really, my sense is they might be trying a little too hard.

What might be helpful for them to remember is that the product is fundamentally good. It was created out of love by a group of genuine, talented, insanely dedicated people, and that energy is in the work, waiting to be tapped. It's not like they were handed the assignment to sell something soulless and crappy. If the art director and his team can just trust that -- if they can have faith the film is good on its own merits, aside from any other factors that may be causing them to feel unsure -- and have the sensitivity to combine the film's historical ties with its new direction, I think the promotional campaign will organically take shape according to the exact needs of the film. Then they won't have to work so hard.

Then the tao will flow,
effort becomes non-effort,
and it sells itself.
Actually, as lousy and unrepresentative as this poster is, I kind of understand the logic behind it. This is a damned tough sell.

I'd argue that playing down the Eastern elements has nothing to do with offending anyone -- and everything to do with trying to seduce non-"Firefly" fans. As I've written, the "Eastern" "Serenity" logo looks like it's advertising a boutique candle store. Mind you, I like it, but then, I know the show. But while this sort of warm, soft, feminine look may have reflected the show's ethos, frankly, to the average unititiated young male sci-fi fan, it makes "Serenity," which is already sort of bizarrely named, look and sound like a Sandra Bullock rehab comedy to be avoided at all costs.

(And frankly, if you've seen the movie, it's anything BUT soft and cuddly.)

Also, the marketing guys are thinking of what sells, and lovely young women with guns are very "manga," and also the marketing guys are thinking, "Hey, Joss Whedon is all about girls kicking ass." So the thinking is there in broad strokes -- but on the finer points of execution, the poster kind of blows. Whoever designed it watched "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" far too recently.

So. The poster stinks. Little Damn Heroes. Bad fontage. Boring, icy colors. Was Drew Struzan unavailable? Was this guy otherwise employed?

[ edited by HudsonVC on 2005-07-16 09:27 ]

[ edited by HudsonVC on 2005-07-16 09:28 ]

[ edited by HudsonVC on 2005-07-16 09:29 ]

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