Drew Struzan is one of the the biggest names in Hollywood. He’s not an actor though, he’s an illustrator and painter. His poster art is regarded as some of the best in the world and for good reason. His posters are awesome! Sadly they are not as common these days since digital poster designs have gained more traction. Luckily his images are so timeless they are part of Hollywood history now and here are my picks of some of the best movie posters done by Drew Struzan. They are in no particular order.
1. An American tail
Let’s start with a cartoon. An American tale is so iconic it’s character Fivel became Ambiln entertainment’s mascot. Drew illustrated the poster for the first movie. Actually he illustrated two but I chose this one because I find the scale of it just epic. The small mouse Fivel among the big human feet and New York city in the background. It already creates an entire world and story just by looking at this one scene on the poster.
2. Back to the future
Ok, I’m kind of cheating with this one. The whole Back to the future trilogy is awesome, yes even the third one and the posters are basically all the same concept. Drew’s illustrations of humans are so detailed and realistic you would never know it’s not a photograph until you look close. Drew is a master of lighting and this series of posters show that perfectly. I grouped these posters together because they are basically the same image just updated for every movie.
This poster is parodying the Indiana Jones posters. Ironically I’ll admit I like this more than Drew’s original Indiana Jones posters. The image is dynamic and invokes a feeling of tension. The main antagonist is way back in the distance and we can only guess who he is. I really like the use of negative space on the sides of the poster with the torn paper. It makes the poster feel really retro but at the same time not dated at all.
4. Harry Potter
This poster was never used for Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. The poster they ended up using is really bland compared to the one Drew made. I can’t understand why they would not go for the Drew Struzan poster. It’s not like they couldn’t afford it they already commissioned it.
5. Harry Potter again
Yes… Harry Potter is on the list twice. Drew already illustrated a poster for the first Harry Potter movie and sadly that was the last one used. His use of composition and size relation is spot on. The main character in the center with the side characters smaller on the side but not too small so they are in focus just enough. It shows an entire movies lore in just one image. Even though these are mostly portrait images they are still dynamic and give you a sense of tension. This movie just makes you want to see the movie even though you never read any of the books.
Hook is my guilty pleasure. It’s not a perfect movie but I just love the concept and story. I even like the weird Phil Collins cameo. This poster uses a lot of negative space. Well actually that space is filled with the movie title and information but it’s not segmented like on most of the other posters. He envelops the title with the characters and scenes from the movie.
7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the crystal skull
The last Indiana Jones got rather mixed reviews. Honestly, I liked it. It’s no more ridiculous than any of the other three movies. This poster was never used but I find it to be the best Indy poster made. The darkness in the background with the small tinge of light on the figures silhouette makes the image earie and mysterious. A similar images was later used for the actual poster but I find it has less impact because the background is lighter and less earie.
8. Revenge of the Jedi
Now this is a VERY special poster. When Return of the jedi was still in production it’s title was Revenge of the jedi. Lucas changed the title at the last minute but some Drew Struzan Posters already went public. Today these are rare collectable items since there is not a lot of them out in the wild. While other Star Wars posters had more content I find this one more interesting. The confrontation between Vader and Luke with a close up of Vader’s mask in the background. Anyone that knows Star Wars lore knows that red is the color of the dark side. It has a dark tint and Drew’s mastery of light shows yet again.
Labou is the youngest poster on this list. The movie was produced in 2009 and it has a rather 80s feel. It’s an independent production and it’s use of a Drew Struzan poster gives it even a more retro feel. I love it when Drew creates frames for his posters like here and some of the previous posters.
10. The Muppet movie
I love this one just because how cheerful it is. I freakin’ love the Muppets and maybe that’s why I’m a bit biased here. Drew has definitely done better posters but most of them, especially on this list, are dark and play with light and shadow. This one is light and happy, it’s a sunny day and the Muppets are on a road trip. The typical frame is here again and the Muppets look like they are going to pop through it any moment. This is one of the few posters where the text isn’t really a part of the “illustrated space” in Drew’s posters. That’s not so typical of Drew’s work and it works just right here.