Trajan: the Fallback Font for Lazy Movie Marketers

Written by Stephen Coles on December 13, 2007

You don’t have to be a complete font freak like myself to observe that Trajan is the go-to typeface for promoting new movies. Carol Twombly’s digitization of the classic Roman inscriptional lettering is seen on countless posters, billboards and ads — usually for those films in the dramatic blockbuster category. The phenomenon is documented in a Flickr group, satirized in a epic (by internet standards) video by Cheshire Dave (of “Behind the Typeface” fame), and now mocked by Kirby Ferguson of Goodie Bag. Ferguson riffs on various topics of the day in a short zefrank-style monologue spliced with amusing imagery and acerbic tangents, and this time his target is Trajan.

Ferguson also keenly observed (as did J. Tyler Helms in August) that there is one other default movie poster type style: the extra bold sans serifs of blockbuster comedy, always in red.

Once in a long while, a blockbuster marketing team branches away from Trajan. The “Da Vinci Code” people employed the underused Penumbra, but I suppose that wasn’t branching too far.

See also: FontShop’s list of Trajan alternatives.