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Bull Durham:
This movie was made when Kevin Costner was in his early thirties and could do no wrong at the box office. He played a minor league ball player spending his summer playing for a southern minor league team. Susan Sarandon played the woman who always takes a player as her lover in the summer. This summer she vacillates between a very young and unknown Tim Robbins and red-hot Kevin Costner.

The cover chose to focus on Kevin Costner as hunk of the moment and everything that surrounds him is put there to set him off nicely. He is fully but realistically clothed as a ball player with his baseball jacket and bat. He’s perched on the hood of a convertible and Susan Sarandon is draped around his shoulders. However, nothing detracts from seeing all of Kevin Costner. The ballpark is in the background. This cover tells us that this is a baseball love story but sinks its teeth 100% into the idea that Kevin Costner will be the one to drag viewers into the theater. The cover doesn’t even mention Tim Robbins, preferring the viewers to think that Costner is onscreen for the entire movie. This is the closest cover we’ve seen to a romance genre cover but even then Costner exudes a lot more class than we are used to seeing.size=4>

Next Stop, Wonderland:
This is a great small movie originally shown on the art house and film festival circuit. It has a very innovative plot. The hero and heroine keep missing one another throughout the movie. Sometimes they can even be in the same restaurant or at the same party. It looks like they will come together many times but another wholly unsuited man or woman always intervenes. These two have some of the most disastrous dates with other people ever shown in a feature film. Finally, they do come together on the subway train which has Wonderland as a stop. Neither star is particularly well known although Hope Davis is recognized by art house and film festival-goers.

This cover goes for a very light romantic image of her sitting on top of the subway train while he looks up at her. This visual does not occur in the movie; she never sits on top of the train! Notice the way you lose the expressiveness of the face and the hands with this cover since the point of view has moved back to take in more of the body. That is all right if light and frothy is all one is trying to convey and evidently that is what the makers wanted. There is a beautiful scene on the subway where she almost faints on him and he catches her. This is how they finally do meet. Personally, I would have preferred that visual in close-up much more but this is appealing. size=4>

All three of the above movies are upbeat romances. If they were romantic dramas, it is doubtful that the makers would want to lose the expressiveness of close-ups that we’ve seen as covers on other movies.

Man & Man Alone

Do filmmakers ever use just the image of the hero like romance novel covers currently do? The male star must be a hugely successful and compelling one in order for it to take that risk on a romance cover.

The Wild One:

Always known for being first, Marlon Brando was again first when he posed for this still of the ultimate bad boy. Made in the early 1950s, this cover is also sold as a photo and poster and has been successful with both men and women every decade since then, right up to present time. It is one of the few photographs equally popular in both straight and gay communities around the world. Brando plays Johnny, a motorcycle gang leader. His classic line, still quoted, is in answer to the question, “What are you rebelling against?” He says, “What’ya got?” There is a romance in the movie involving a virginal young woman in the town.

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Brando was an anti-hero before James Dean, before “the Fonz,” and before every other bad boy you’ve ever seen pictured. Brando’s brilliance is that he always can become totally the character who he is playing. There is not a vestige of any other character or person left when he is “in character.” In most of his movies, he dominates the cover image and the posters sold from his movies are of all different “hims.” It is hard to recognize him from one role to another. So far no one has come up with a bad boy image to eclipse this one in the film world although many have tried mightily.

Jerry Maguire:
One actor who has frequently graced covers on his own is Tom Cruise. On the cover of this film, Tom Cruise appears alone in a head and shoulders close-up, in profile and shirt and tie as the title character, a sports agent. He obviously is in character as Maguire and is caught in a moment of humor yet reflection. He is dressed as a sports agent would dress and the only skin that shows is on his face and neck. Nevertheless, it is a very sexy image and one that would be at home on any romance novel. This film is definitely billed and sold to the public as a romantic movie.size=4>

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