Movie Posters: Make Perfect Strangers Pay to See Your Movie

OK. You’ve finished your movie… and it’s brilliant! Your characters are developed perfectly, the storyline is beautiful, and your shots are exquisite.

There’s just one more tiny step: Get people to see it!

Anyone involved with showbiz knows, making the movie is one thing. Making money from it is an even bigger feat. If you want to get random strangers to pay to watch your movie, you need to get four things from them.

You need their Attention, Interest, Desire and Action… also known as AIDA.


This one’s pretty obvious. Movie posters are passed by all the time. Some even blend in with the wall they are hanging from.

Although this is the most obvious step in the formula, it’s also the most crucial. Grab the attention of a passerby and giving them incentive to look will draw them in, and spark that interest of “I wonder what this is about.”

If this didn’t grab your attention when it first came out…something is wrong with you. The creative designers knew how to grab the attention of their audience: they knew that sex sells.


OK, they looked. Step two: make them interested.

This poster for example, although one of the creepiest one-sheets I’ve ever seen, makes me wonder what this film is about. Creepy wolf-bear attacks in the wilderness? Girl Scout hiking trip gone terribly wrong? I have to know!


Step three: turn that interest into desire to see.

A lot of posters fall short here. Convincing the target audience they want to see the movie and they’ll enjoy it is a hard task to overcome.

Movies based on books are especially likely to flop during this step. Hardcore fans of the book will base their first reactions on the movie poster, so make it incredible or be prepared for backlash.

The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy did a beautiful job of drawing in desire, from LOTR noobs and junkies alike.


The crucial fourth step, where you clinch the deal. Turn their desire into action. 

All the elements of the AIDA model lead toward this action. Interest won’t pay the bills; you need butts in seats.

Numbers are good at driving action. Include ticket prices, give the premiere date, etc. The new Hunger Games movie did an awesome job of including all four elements (and you see they include the premiere date).

There are tons of resources for marketing your own movie, including how to create awesome movie posters. Follow the AIDA model, make it widely relatable, include some iconography, and you’ve got a fantastic poster.

Now you’ve just gotta make that movie.

Happy Filming!

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