The reason behind the order of actors’ names on movie posters

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Although some movie posters place the actor’s name beside their photo or portrait, as one would expect, this isn’t the case for the vast majority of posters.

If by looking at these two posters you rule out alphabetical order, you’re on the right track. There is an entirely different explanation…

If by looking at these two posters you rule out alphabetical order, you’re on the right track. There is an entirely different explanation…

Like any employee, actors work under contract. This contract establishes all terms and conditions just like any other work contract. Although the clauses are somewhat different, naturally, the actor’s salary is addressed. This salary also includes advertising to ensure greater visibility. Therefore, the name of the highest paid or most famous actor will be more prominent and is usually at the left, whether or not they have a leading role (with a few exceptions). 

Why at the left? Numerous studies have proven that when reading, most people follow a Z-shaped path. Therefore, the human eye is first drawn to elements at the top left and follows a path down to the bottom right. However, it is important to note that this is only observed in countries where people read from left to right. In countries like Japan, the reading path usually starts at the top right and finishes at the bottom left.

So why don’t the names and faces match?

Simply because, like ordinary people, actors sign their contracts before they begin working. Moreover, the photos used are taken during filming and the poster can only be edited afterwards. The graphic designers in charge of editing the posters are therefore obliged to add the names of the actors according to the terms stipulated in the contracts, regardless of where the actors’ faces appear.

In short, it is merely a coincidence if an actor’s name can be found next to their photo on a movie poster!


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