The Orange and the Blues

It’s creeping through our theaters and refuses to buckle. It’s artistically hampered, generic, and more common than a car chase through San Francisco that ends with the lovers kissing in a downpour. But I’m not talking about the slavish onslaught of sequels and mindless remakes. No. I’m talking about the criminal use of the orange / blue color combination that has become the slut of the movie poster color wheel.

Once you realize it’s happening, you’ll see it everywhere.

We know about complimentary colors and how they “pop” when placed together. Orange and blue are exactly that. Orange and blue elements are not the issue, it’s the digital manipulation to colorize everything orange and blue. Originally, it was a flesh tone which encouraged blue and turquoise to the palette, but with a process called “digital intermediate,” colorists scan entire movies and can manipulate the palette, pushing colors and tweaking hues. This is a relatively new process: Oh Brother Where Art Thou was one of the first features to fully scan and color grade the entire image.

As cliché as it is, we know Hollywood loves to jump on a successful formula. Here are a few posters I’ve found that champion this overused effect.

8 thoughts on “The Orange and the Blues

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  3. Trevor Tuttle Post author

    thank you for the comments. so glad imprint is growing in readership.

    celticfiend – yes, this is a conversation that’s been going on for a few months in the cinema circle. i don’t claim this to be a new subject.

    as for the timing of the post: i work on the tenth floor of a building that overlooks hollywood. i can see roughly three dozen billboards from my perch. i always know which movies are releasing that week by darting my eyes across the town. a week back, i noticed every billboard was orange and blue.

    for me, i am a fan of orange and blue. this post is an observation of a trend rather than a criticism of the color combination. more specifically, the criticism of chronic color grading beyond skin tone and sky.

  4. jy

    Well, poster artists can’t help it if caucasian skin tone is best expressed as a shade of orange. Solution: more movie posters featuring non-caucasian people!

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  6. celticfiend

    Seen this posted elsewhere. Call me crazy but most of those images feature the sky. I realize we may not all be from this planet originally, but that’s the usual color when it’s not dark. Considering that entertainment is Americas only real national product, it would seem to me wise to make it at least visually appealing since the plots, acting, directing… Well, most everything about them is mediocre at best.

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