Film posters are important. At least, they are if you’re doing it right. Think back to some of the classics: ET’s bike across the moon, The Godfather’s white-on-black puppet strings, Jaws’ swimmer above the shark. They were striking images that stayed with you and told you something about the film.
That’s why the posters for Kong: Skull Island, the new anime and Pokemon-inspired take on the iconic story, have made such an impact. In the first, released last month, a platoon of soldiers wade through a rice paddy, two helicopters overhead, towards a blood-red sun and the silhouette of a gorilla taller than a mountain. It’s a moody image that deliberately recalls the iconic poster for Apocalypse Now and tells you that this King Kong will not be flirting with Fay Wray or wrestling with some little T-Rex. This is a force of nature and an existential threat.
But there’s a second, even more what-the-heck poster going around. Created for the Japanese market, artist Kaida Yuji’s promotional one-sheet crams exploding helicopters, a rampaging gorilla, creeping “skull crawlers”, flocks of leathery-winged beasties, spooky tribesmen, spiders, tentacles, soldiers and flame into a crazy, eye-searing collage, just like the classic monster movie posters of the 60s and 70s.
It’s a thrilling reminder of how exciting commercial art can be – and brilliantly, you can get Kaida Yuji’s limited-edition monster poster free when you book tickets with Vue online or in-cinema to see any Kong: Skull Island showing between Thursday 9th and Thursday 16th March 2017.
Director John Vogt-Roberts deliberately set out to blend the warrior’s journey of Apocalypse Now with something surprising: the emotional depth of Hayao Miyazaki’s cartoons Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. So as Tom Hiddleston, Samuel Jackson and their soldiers patrol deeper into Skull Island, they come across increasingly weird monsters born of myths, hallucinations and nightmares. As inspiration, Vogt-Roberts even cites the monster menagerie of Pokemon. “I wanted these things to have a spirituality and essence to them,” he says. “To simultaneously be gorgeous and terrifying."
It’s such a new take on the King Kong story, and so brilliantly Japanese in spirit (Kong will fight Godzilla in a forthcoming instalment, although that’s a few years off). Will it go down in history as one of the greats? Find out on 9th March.