The colors, Duke! The colors!

Mad props if the title makes sense to you.

Manipulating audiences is nothing really new.  After all, we have to manipulate the audience somewhat to make the stories we convey more easily accepted and disbelief more easily suspended.  Sometimes we do it to keep people from being distracted.  Sometimes it’s simple tricks, and sometimes it requires advanced technology.

If you want to get the audience looking at the screen or your poster, all you have to do is fudge the colors.

Jill Morton, a Fine Arts Professor and head of Colors Matter, defines complimentary colors as colors opposite each other on the color wheel. They tend to make objects with complimentary colors stand out.  Hollywood and game studios use this to make people stand out in a visually striking manner.  Since most skin tones fall into the orange range, and thus blue and teal are used to make them stand out.  The trick is also used to emphasize conflicts such as good versus evil, fire versus water, or nature versus technology.

Now you will never, ever un-see this trend. Ever.

Is that a carrot or is it actual cannibal Shia Labeouf?

In a vacuum, this is a pretty neat trick.  The posters in the image all really “jump out” because of the contrast.  However, this trick does not exist in a vacuum , and everyone is doing it.  After all, it is relatively easy to make people look more orange and set the against a teal backdrop.  Still, it goes a long way to ensuring that everything that comes to theaters looks the exact same.

Color tricks are nothing new in Hollywood.  It’s the reason The Matrix has so much green in it.  Still, this might be the most pervasive example, and it gets a bit old.  After all, if everything stands out, does anything stand out?

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