Sunday, February 23, 2014

Movie Tie-In Covers Can Be Cool Too

I mean, kind of. Recent history hasn't really proven that for me, but now that I've been working in a bookstore, I've been working very close to covers. For me, this's awesome, because I make all of our series covers (and I'm so very excited about the next books' covers, I could float away). I get the chance to just glance over the elements of about a million covers and analyze what and why and how and--yeah.

Before working, and even up until recently, I was of the conclusion that movie covers suck. Seriously. The most recent example I'd had before working was Beautiful Creatures.

Okay, so I do admit to picking up this cover just because of the typography and mood -- which totally signifies how important typography alone is. The cover IS the typography, and the title could have meant anything, so I did pick it up just because of that and how dark it looked. I like me some dark fantasy.

And then, the movie cover.

Mmmmmph. Lots of mmmmph-ing. It's soooo busy, so "LOOK THIS IS A MOVIE." The awesome typography totally gets overwhelmed and just adds to the busyness of the whole thing and mmmmph. It's very basic, to say the least.

I totally understand that movie tie-in covers are supposed to attract an untapped part of the potential reader audience, and they're supposed to be commercial with a wide appeal and all that, but. But, but, but. Why? Why so obvious?

I'm a fan of subtly, and when I started working, I got to see the movie-tie in of City of Bones come out. Actually, I really like the movie tie-in, but I'm in total coverlust for the whole freaken Mortal Instruments series covers. They're gorgeous. I picked up the first book just because I wanted to own those covers.

I'm also a total loser for shiny things. If there's a sparkly element to a cover, I'll pick it up. And if Createspace ever offers some sort of shiny cover option, I'll cry metallic tears. (And, honestly, the Marionettes covers are so meant for sparkly covers.)

The movie tie-in is based on the movie poster, which is totally brilliant and came out about the time Dance in Shadow and Whisper did so unfortunately they look painfully similar, so I wasn't surprised that they used the poster.

It's got the same shiny design, and it's also the same size, so what actually happened was that customers got confused and simply went with the original design, since it matches the rest of the series. It seemed to me that this cover was more for the already-fans, to buy it and add it to the collection, as opposed to generating a new fanbase.

Of course, I don't know the complete psychology of things.

I still really like this cover, though. It didn't go the obvious route of slapping the whole cast onto the cover under the title.

I like when covers feature an element or a particular feel that makes a book stand out. It's all well and good slapping a pretty girl face on a cover and throwing in some effects, but it's the same formula over and over again. I mean, let's take Vampire Academy.

Wowowow, the original first cover. I have this cover. I've had this cover a real long time, and talk about basic. Pretty Angelina Jolie face photoshopped with a mysterious silhouette of a castley school, photoshopped with a mysterious wrought iron gate.

Sighs for days.

I don't even want to get into the fact that Rose is supposed to have darker skin and look half Turkish because that's another post entirely.

Eventually, as Vampire Academy picked up a larger fanbase, the creative team tried to reinvent the covers.

Pretty sure this tells us even less about the actual story. At least it looks a little less like a photoshopped mess, I guess?

I'm really trying here.

Anyway, once the first book movie deal went through, the covers were reinvented yet again.


I'm. I mean. Well.

Let's just fast-forward to the movie tie-in edition.

I picked this up in the store for the first time, and if you've seen it, you know the pink is foil. That means shiny.

Well. I do like shiny, and. Y'know.

For me, totally scrapping the original cover design and borrowing the movie poster was the best thing to ever happen to the VA covers. Also, NOT making the cover bright green like the poster = extra points. Then, on top of that, making it shiny?

There are a ton of things I hated about the outfits. I'm totally for teens expressing their sexuality, but sexualizing teens is a bit of a different story. But, honestly, my biggest complaint is that Rose's outfit is hardly practical for combat. Short skirts ride up like crazy, and they're definitely not made for roundhouse kicks.

I know. Semantics.

But, in the end, I actually really like this cover. There's the box set of the first three, and it's taken all my will power not to tear through the plastic wrap just to see what they did to the other two.

But, let's not forget:

The original Hunger Games covers? Well, I didn't pick up the books because I thought the covers were exquisite. I didn't care for the Hunger Games first cover when I first saw it, and didn't care for Catching Fire, either. I only picked it up based off someone else's recommendation.

And then I was totally, wholly glad I did. But, the cover was not a seller. I'm a visual person, so at least one thing on the cover has to be visually appealing for me to give a cracker. THG and CF were not those covers.

When the movie tie-in came out for THG, I wasn't impressed, but I wasn't unimpressed. The CF tie-in?

Less impressed.

I really loved the debut character posters of THG, buuuut personally not so enthralled by CF's. The first posters were a fantastic show of resistance, holding back, and finding a single element to play up for an awesomely dark atmosphere.

This was...not that. Lots of textures laid over each other. Basic composition. Commercial as all heck. As a creative person, totally bored.

(Plus, the movie tie-ins aren't shiny. Ehehehe.)

But, on a separate note, there's the box set of the trilogy, the only way currently to get Mockingjay in paperback. Here's the CF cover for that:

I think it might at least be shiny.

But it does have a recognizable brand, and that's an important thing to have and capitalize on.

Recently, I was assigned the task of setting up the Divergent movie promo -- which I was super, duper, freaken excited about. The most exciting part? I got to open the box and see the movie tie-in covers for the first time.

Holy crap.

The Divergent cover didn't leave an impression on me in the beginning, either. It's a combination of design elements that tells me little about the story. Again, I only picked it up based off a recommendation from the same person.

The familiar original cover that went to shiny-shiny paperback during the winter time. That was a bonus.

When I opened the strict-on-sale box of new Divergent covers, though, I found this:

I'm in love. What an awesome show of restraint. And while looking for this cover online, I found the rest of the promo character posters -- they're absolutely gorgeous. All of them put a spotlight on the characters' tattoos and let that do the talking. It's so brilliant, I'm freaking out. I'd put up all those character posters just because they're stunning.

Oh, and the bonus?

The back cover has a little special treat.

The creative team totally knows who their audience is.

So, now that I have some mixed hope for the future of movie tie-ins, I wonder most what they're going to do with The Fault in Our Stars.

This is such an iconic cover for teen fiction -- what the heck are they going to do to honor both the original cover and also make it more commercial? The movie tie-in comes out April 8, so I guess we'll be finding out next month. Can't wait to alert all the TFiOS fans at work, either.

(And then there's The Giver, The Maze Runner, Mockingjay, Fallen, If I many covers to look forward to. I guess we'll see!)

I'm also really looking forward to debuting the next covers in the Marionettes series, and also the first cover of Monsters. Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh.

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