ScreenHunter_307 Dec. 27 13.58

While posters for the film in the west appear to be going for more mysterious, arty designs, the official poster for the film’s Japanese release opts for more of a “cosplay Christmas card” look

The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s western mystery set in post-Civil War America, is, like most of the director’s films, a homage to the film-making of old. In fact, Tarantino went so far as the shoot the movie with Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic lenses, which haven’t been used on a major motion picture since the late 1960s.

It follows, then, that the marketing folks over at The Weinstein Company would concoct a series of promotional posters that recall the glory days of the spaghetti western. The posters promoting the film in the US and elsewhere clearly ape the minimalist style of promo pieces from the genre’s 1960s and 70s heyday. To the Western eye, this art style is doubly effective, as it does homage to the film’s roots and also preserves the mystery of the film’s characters and plot.

However, it appears the movie’s Japanese distributor didn’t get the memo, as they’ve ditched the minimalist art style that left the film shrouded in mystery and have instead gone for a simple lineup of the film’s major characters facing the camera. To our eyes, it ends up looking less like a promo for a violent mystery/suspense set in the old west, and more like somebody’s wacky cosplay family Christmas photo. Making matters even worse is the poster’s blocky title text that would look right at home on some kind of gaudy year-end sale flier.

The Japanese Twitterverse has its fair share of people calling the design “lame” or “uncool,” but others are offering speculation as to the marketing decisions behind it. More than one user suggests that Japanese movie posters tend to have characters facing the camera to promote a sense of affinity with the characters before viewers see them on the big screen, while others pointed out that cool-looking art is all well and good, but the point of a movie poster ought to be to reveal at least a little bit about the movie’s plot or at least genre to entice viewers. The posters are mostly propped up in grimy movie theater lobbies and not the Louvre, after all.

There’s another possible explanation, too: Tarantino films, as far as foreign movies go, do a pretty good business in Japan. With Tarantino’s penchant for using the same handful of actors for roles in almost all of his films, the agency behind the design may have wanted moviegoers to be able to instantly recognize the actors so they’d know at a glance that, yup, this is a Tarantino film.

Still, we can see why many Japanese fans are calling this design lame, although, to whatever agency or marketing division’s credit, at least the poster didn’t wind up being overtly racist like a recent Chinese promo poster for a certain film about a war in the stars.

Source and images: Twitter/@SakaPI