I was reading My Eyes! Horrible DVD Covers (Part One) and My Eyes! Horrible DVD Covers (Part Two), and I'll not steal all of the art or comparisons here.
There's some discussion in the comments about the different marketing needs, the generational differences between current DVD buyers and past movie-goers as well as the needs of a DVD box on a shelf at Best Buy compared to a poster on the wall of a theater.
I'll hardly begrudge these companies the desire to sell their movies. Frankly, if anything gets some younger viewers and what not to take a chance on picking up Race with the Devil or Charley Varrick than I'm a fan. The movie's the thing, and I'll happily accept that my collection will have a DVD with cover art I don't enjoy as much, if someone can show me that's true.
But, as it stands, I understand that it really is the conventional wisdom among the companies making these things, but I don't believe they have any real evidence of it. I think somebody long ago decided it was true and to the extent it may have truth, it's because they made it true.
But seriously, does anyone really believe that grey market discount bin cover is moving extra copies of Return of the Living Dead?
Is the MTV Generation really extra interested in boring? That's certainly not the way the conventional wisdom on the younger generation goes when I've heard it, and too often these new-fangled PhotoShopped covers look boring.
Even if we accept as fact that bigger pictures, more headshots, etc. move more DVDs, a lot of these are still unbelievably terrible!
What's bizarre to me in so many cases is that they seem to have misunderstood the most basic principle of the thing, which is to sell the drama, humor, excitement of the movie experience. At least the monstrosity above for Race with the Devil understands that much, even if it looks like whoever did it was trying out PhotoShop for the first time.
Hell, I'll even concede to being able to see that this ludicrous cover art for Stuart Gordon's wonderful Lovecraft adaptation From Beyond (not included in either Retrospace post) is trying to find a way to sell the movie in a post-Matrix age.
And while I concede that the boringness of this Swamp Thing cover isn't entirely wrong in making the movie look kind of dull, I still fail to see how that's good advertising.
I'm not sure any cover art could sell Burt Reynolds good ol' boy classic White Lightning to any younger DVD buyers who weren't already inclined toward its ilk, but I know I look at that and stare in wonder. The Neil who grew up in the many years that Reynolds was the biggest movie star in the world would never have believed he'd be bored looking at a picture of Burt-fuckin'-Reynolds with a big gun, but they managed to find the one picture just that boring!
Maybe there's an art to this after all!
Frankly, I can't help wondering if the opposite isn't taking place somewhere way up at the top. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but these look to me like a plan to undermine the sales of catalog DVDs.
Or would if the posters and artwork for new movies didn't usually look just as bad and twice as lazy.