The advance posters for the forthcoming film, The Adventure of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn, which will be released on 26th October and star Daniel Craig as the pirate Red Rackham, have something of the Bond-poster structure about them. In an earlier blog entry, I described the evolution of the British Bond posters, and identified elements that were successful – that is, the elements or motifs that were repeatedly incorporated into the posters of successive Bond films. I suggested that these elements were so successful, that they had escaped the world of Bond and were routinely used for non-Bond film marketing campaigns. We can see this on the Tintin posters.
In the international version of the poster, Tintin and Snowy are centrally placed. There is a hint of movement, as they appear to be walking. The placement recalls the central position that Bond has taken on the majority of posters, while the movement brings to mind the British Quantum of Solace poster, which shows Bond walking. We could also view Snowy as equivalent to the Bond girl, who, especially since the Pierce Brosnan era, has featured as prominently as Bond on the poster. Then, in the background of the Tintin poster, there is the montage of scenes from the film – a seaplane under the control of a drunken Captain Haddock, a camel train across the Sahara, and the Unicorn itself. The scene montage is, of course, a recurring element of the British Bond posters.
The US version of the Tintin poster follows a convention to which the US Bond posters often adhere. The Tintin poster retains the central Tintin and Snowy, but places them in front of a single scene – the Unicorn moored alongside a dock. Similarly, the US versions of Bond posters have tended to reject the multiple-scened montage in favour of a single strong image. The Living Daylights poster, for example, opts for the gun-barrel motif, rather than the montage selected for the British version. The background on the Licence to Kill poster features the menacing visage of the villain, Franz Sanchez, rather than a more representative group of images on the British version. The poster for For Your Eyes Only removes all scene representations, leaving Bond and the Bond girl only. (Incidentally, the Japanese designers and artists sit at the opposite end of the spectrum, packing their posters with selection of scenes at the expense of individual characters, even Bond.)
The similarities between the Tintin posters and the typical Bond poster suggest that poster designs fit into region-specific cultural environments, resulting in a degree of conformity within those regions. The posters produced for the US and UK (or international) markets follow different sets of rules which have gradually evolved over time. The Tintin or Bond posters look the way they do, because that’s the way that posters designed before them in their respective regions have looked.