Hot Tub Time Machine Poster

Every once in a while I encounter a poster that creates in my mind a great curiosity as to what exactly people could possibly be thinking when they designed it. This is one of those posters. So I was very glad to see that EW has the answer to that question:

“The title is provocative,” explains studio marketing head Michael Vollman. “We wanted to try to tell some story with the poster, which you don’t do a lot of the time. Who has algebra in something aimed at a mass audience? It was a fun way to make the title even more interesting.”

Sometimes things aren’t done a certain way because of entrenched prejudices, or out of fear. Sometimes they aren’t done a certain way because it would be stupid to do them that way. This seems to be the second case.

I don’t want to lambast this poster too much because I honestly appreciate that they were trying to do something different and taking some risks. But telling a story in a poster is hard and the way they do it here is quite ineffective. If you don’t know the story of the movie, is that squirrel, to pick one element, going to make any sense to you? And from what can possibly be understood, how much is the poster actually telling you that is not in the title already?

I also have the general belief that is there are very few good posters that look ugly from a distance but compensate for it by being interesting when watched closely. I see nothing here that challenges that belief.