copywriting in film

When films and writing are mentioned in the same sentence, peoples’ minds go straight to the scriptwriters. But, they are not the only ones who write in the movie industry.Do you ever stop to think about those taglines that appear on every movie poster? We do not really give them any second thought, but actually, a lot of thoughts went into creating just that one line.

Who is responsible for their creation? Well, copywriters, of course. Or theatrical print copywriters, if you will.

New summer blockbusters need enthralling lines on their posters which will convince cinema-goers to purchase tickets. Usually witty, always short, the purpose of these taglines is to explain a movie without giving out too much, but to reveal just a bit to interest them. Summarizing the whole movie into a single line is a tough job, but someone has to do it.


Role of movie taglines and key art in marketing

How does the process of writing a tagline look like? How do copywriters write a one-liner which is bound to grab the attention of the right movie audience?

First of all, it is important to market the movie correctly from the get-go. By following the traditional genre rules, key art or key visual needs to convey the correct message of the movie in question.

What is the key art? It is a picture or a photo which appears everywhere relating to the movie. You can find it on the movie poster, movie’s official website, DVD or Blu-Ray case, banner, in a newspapers’ ad. It has to be inseparable from the movie and it needs to be marketed everywhere so people will have the instant association of that picture to the movie. Peoples’ expectations of the film are built with the help of its visual representation which is depicted through already mentioned marketing tools.

Films are usually easy to put into one specific genre. There are some set rules for creating posters for each traditional genre. In the video below, James Verdesoto, creative director and author of numerous movie posters, explains the role of color in a movie poster:

When it comes to animated movies, there is a wider array of possibilities on how to use the key art during the promotion. Key art can even be turned into 3D toys. It can also be featured on cups or plates and accompanied by the tagline. Seeing the key art and the tagline together creates an association in the film audience’s mind.

But how to write the best tagline? Preferably a one that will stick with the audience?


How to write movie taglines

Before getting down to work, a good copywriter first needs to conduct thorough research. In this case, they need to watch the movie or TV show they are writing the tagline for. Besides the inspiration purposes, this practice is also a great way to avoid the scenarios of people asking themselves while leaving the cinema if they watched the same movie as the copywriter.

Think of the movie tagline as the movie’s brand identity, while its visual identity is carried out by the key art. Cinema is not forgiving in this aspect. There is a new movie out every day and your task is to make yours stand out.

The creation process of a movie tagline is similar to creating a slogan for a company. The shorter would definitely be a better option since it will get remembered more quickly, but sometimes it is impossible to communicate everything you want in just five words or less. Especially when the movie creators have specific requests when it comes to the tagline. For example, they want a particular word to appear in it or they have their own ideas about how it should sound. The job of the copywriter is to hear them all out and then see what would work best and also to take into consideration the creators’ wishes.

Words come first, and after that, it is up to graphic designers to capture the story through images and to correlate it to the tagline. Once everything is set and approved, it is time to focus on bringing the cinema’s magic to the potential audience with the helping hand of the marketing campaign.


Examples of great movie taglines

Some of these are fun wordplay, some are right to the point, while others you can understand only if you watch the movie. We will not give away any endings, so do go ahead.


1. Psycho: “Don’t give away the ending – it’s the only one we have!”

film psycho
Source: NYT Archives Twitter


2. Edward Scissorhands: “His story will touch you, even though he can’t.”

film edward scissorhands
Source: Aliexpress


3. I Am Legend: “The last man on Earth is not alone.”

film i am legend
Source: IMDB


4. Annihilation: “One way in. No way out.”

film annihilation
Source: Teaser-Trailer


5. The Social Network: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”

film the social network
Source: IMDB


6. Memento: “Some memories are best forgotten.”

film memento
Source: IMDB


7. Predator 2: “He’s in town with a few days to kill.”

film predator 2
Source: IMDB


8. GoldenEye: “You know the name. You know the number.”

film goldeneye
Source: Pinterest


9. The Truman Show: “On the air. Unaware.”

film the truman show
Source: IMDB


10. From Paris with Love: “Two agents. One city. No merci.”

film from paris with love
Source: IMDB


Examples of not so great movie taglines

Selection of just a couple really not so great taglines, which are uninspired or stating rather the obvious.


1. Crank: High Voltage: “He was dead… but he got better.”

film crank high voltage
Source: IMDB


2. Charlie St. Cloud: “Life is for living.”

film charlie st cloud
Source: IMDB


3. Matrix Revolutions: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.”

matrix revolutions
Source: IMDB


4. Alex Cross: “Don’t ever cross Alex Cross.”

alex cross
Source: IMDB


Which is your favorite? Share with us in the comment section or on our Facebook page some of your favorite taglines that we did not mention.

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Nina Bovan

Either writing, reading, or googling.