Key Art Key Changes, Movie Marketing

Key Art Key Changes: Kubo, Hell or High Water, War Dogs and More

Reaching an audience in the home video market is much different than reaching the theatrical audience. That often means the key art that’s used for home video releases is changed significantly from the one-sheets that were available during the theatrical marketing cycle. What I’m going to try and do is see what those changes are and what they mean for the appeal being made.

Kubo and the Two Strings

There’s no difference between the movie’s theatrical one-sheet and the home video cover art. Apparently the studio thought the image of Kubo lunging toward the camera with his sword as Monkey and Beetle look on in the background worked pretty well, so why mess with it?

Hell or High Water

The theatrical poster helped to establish the story through the placement of the three main actors. So Foster and Pine are seen in the foreground walking through a Texas farm with guns and bags of money in hand while Bridges as the lawman looking over them, an indication he’s on their trailer.

The DVD art has the three actors arranged more by star power and prestige in the mainstream (read: Walmart buyers who happen to see this out of the corner of their eye) than out of concern for conveying the story. So Bridges and Pine are more or less on equal footing with their big floating heads in the background with Foster in the foreground sporting his gun. At the bottom things get overt with an actual scene from one of the bank robberies in the movie.

War Dogs

The two posters for this story of a couple of man-boy war profiteers tried to play up the violent elements of the movie as much as possible. The one recreated the style of the poster for Scarface and the other just shows Miles Teller and Jonah Hill engaging in a little gun-range therapy, with wild looks on their faces like they’re hanging out at a frat party.

That feeling is what’s emphasized on the DVD art. This time the two are shown with luggage in hand as they walk along an airport tarmac of some kind. They’re clearly tanned and it seems to be military aircraft in the background so the viewer can assume it’s a military airfield. The copy is changed to “Hustling their way to the American Dream.” It continues the focus begun in the theatrical campaign of selling the movie as The Hangover set in a warzone.

Hands of Stone

For the theatrical release the studio tried to take a somewhat artistic approach, with a one-sheet showing a gloved fist rising up against a solid red background, the words of the credits and title making up the arm the glove is attached to. That meant the stars, including Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, didn’t actually appear on the posters.

That’s changed on the home video box art, which takes those to plus Usher, who plays Sugar Ray Leonard, and puts them in a very stereotypical “boxing movie” configuration, with Ramirez punching something off screen, Usher standing defiantly looking to the middle distance and De Niro as the trainer leaning against the ropes of the ring. This kind of collage design work is common for movies with a few big stars and does more to make it clear to the audience who’s in the movie and what it’s about.

Yoga Hosers

Again, there’s no change here from the theatrical poster. Both show the Colleens standing atop a pile of Bratzis with hockey sticks and mops being wielded as weapons. Either the studio decided to stick with what they liked about the initial release or there wasn’t budget for new artwork, either is a legit option.

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