Movie Posters: Orange and Blue
Because orange and blue are on the opposite sites of the color wheel, they are called “complementary”. When we as humans see complementary colors next to each other, we find them pleasing, as each color pops out.
You might have seen a trend in the past few decades of movie posters. How they all look pretty much the same. But that is not so much due to the content than the colors: orange and blue.
Orange and blue are quite the powerful combination because they are on the opposite sides of the color wheel, but without any cultural associations that other opposites have. Blue and pink tend to denote genders, while red and green tend to stand for right and wrong.
This thinking, that Hollywood advertisers are well-aware of, is basic color theory. One thing that is common in any movie is people. Human skin, although coming in many different colors, will usually be some shade of orange, whether it's more on the pink side or more on the brown side and no matter the darkness; what unites them is that they are almost universally some shade of orange. Because orange and blue are on the opposite sites of the color wheel, they are called “complementary”. When we as humans see complementary colors next to each other, we find them pleasing, as each color pops out. So, if you have people on the posters, who tend to go towards the orange side of the spectrum, you want them to pop as much as possible in the movie’s ads, posters and other paraphernalia. Here is where the blue comes in.
While orange and blue still represent something, these two colors do not tend to have cultural connotations, but can be interpreted in many other ways, yet still remain each other’s opposites. Fiery orange and icy blue, land and the sea, the earth and the sky, dusk and dawn, humans versus technology, and so many more.
This is not just the posters: movie sets and costumes get the same treatment. The prevalent wall color of the sets is usually blue with brown-ish furniture expertly laid around it to create the perfect mood. The lead actress might be dressed in a yellow dress, which can then be contrasted with a blue set, like the sky. Same with ginger-haired actresses, expect then for the male leads to wear blue clothing to complement them.
I found the orange vs. blue concept very interesting ever since I took notice of it a couple of years ago. I now see it everywhere and it adds another layer to the art that is movie-making.
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